Friday, August 28, 2015

Jesus Has Been Kicked Out of Church:

I’m so glad Jesus isn’t a one-dimensional flannel-graph figure with clean feet and wavy hair. I’m also glad he’s not the soft, pale, sorrowful looking man in many famous paintings I’ve seen. He’s much tougher, tender and more complex than that.

I’ve often wondered whether or not Jesus would come to our churches today. Sadly, I’m not sure he’d like them all and He just might get himself kicked out. Quite frankly, I love this about Him.

Here are five things Jesus said that would get him kicked out of the church today:

He Ticked People Off on Purpose
Jesus was kind and compassionate to the sick, hurting, down and out, and the seeking. He had his Father’s message and spoke truth. However, there was one group of people Jesus didn’t mind offending, which were the Pharisees. It was as if He had a holy vendetta to wake these sleeping souls. The Pharisees presented standoff encounters that rivaled the Sharks vs the Jets (you’re welcome theater people).

In His speech we’ve dubbed “Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees,” this is what Jesus tells them:

“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”
Matthew 23:33
Jesus does not mince words and doesn’t seem to be too concerned about hurting someone’s feelings. He also calls the Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and whitewashed tombs that are lovely on the outside, but hideous on the inside. Ouch! I would not want to be on the receiving end of those words.

How often in the church do we dance around issues afraid to hurt someone’s feelings? Clearly Jesus spoke plainly. So why do we squirm when we face conflict and sticky situations in the church?

He Told a Rich Man to Give Everything to the Poor
People are usually willing to do anything … until it comes down to precious commodities like money and time. In a conversation with the Rich Young Ruler, He didn’t just ask He told this man to give away all his possessions to the poor.

“Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Mark 10: 21

I love the line, “Jesus felt a love for him.” Jesus made His request out of love for the man. He knew this man would never be free if not for this act of sacrifice.

We like the idea of dying to ourselves. We want to pick up our cross and deny ourselves, kind of. Matthew 16:24-26 looks nice on artsy prints and tattoos, but it’s a very real and very tough request Jesus makes for our benefit to free our hearts for Him. Jesus wants us to be close to Him – take a look at what stands in the way of intimacy with Him.

He Stood Up to Church Bullies
I find this winsome and endearing about our Jesus. Jesus had a fierce love for sinners bullied by the church. He once stood between a furious crowd and a guilty woman to draw a line in the sand. In the heat of vicious religious bullying, he swooped down and drew in the dirt with his finger.

Another time, Jesus was having a fancy dinner at the Pharisee’s house when a “woman of the city” sweetly interrupted. She wept on his feet, kissed his feet, washed them with her hair and anointed him. Jesus paused and was present with her, fully receiving the gift she was offering – a sacrifice of love and vulnerability. The Pharisees missed it and criticized her, but Jesus embraced her and gave her the peace she was looking for.

“Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Luke 7:44-47

Jesus didn’t care about what these “powerful” Pharisees might think. He refused to play their faulty game. Instead, He chose love in this profound moment. Can we stand up to church bullies with grace? It’s hard when you’re outnumbered, but remember those you stand in the gap for. It’s worth the risk.

He Trashed the Place
Remember when Jesus cleansed the temple and got really angry because they turned His Father’s house into a crooked business scheme? His holy jealously sparked these words:

“And Jesus entered the temple[a] and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13

This is our bold, passionate and yes, angry Savior. Oh, what I would give to flip some tables in the church (hypothetically speaking, of course).

Who decided Christians should be meek, wimpy and safe people who skirt around conflict and gently poke tough conversations with an 8-foot pole? We must be willing to right what’s wrong in the church and in our world – even if it’s not a pretty conversation with smiling people and sparkling agendas. Go ahead and flip a little.

He was Homeless
From a borrowed manger to a brutal cross, Jesus had no earthly home to call his own.

“And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Matthew 8:20

People came to Jesus and wanted to follow him. He welcomed them, but warned them they would be giving up the comforts of home to go with him. This isn’t the answer some were looking for.

Can you trade in your comfort, security, even your family and your very life to follow Jesus?

“Radical obedience to Christ is not easy… It’s not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.” – David Platt

Jesus broke stereotypes and boundaries to reach people with the Gospel. We simply can’t mold him into our image – that would be far too insulting, safe and pious.

Jesus is and was gloriously defiant, scandalous, beautiful and deeply personal. Can we take our cue from Jesus and embrace the wildness of our hearts instead of playing it safe? Can we love whole-heartedly and live free-hearted instead of letting our hearts sleep? It’s an unknown path we’re called to and it’s teeming with potential, risk, fullness and playfulness.

“We live our lives before the wild, dangerous, unfettered and free character of the living God.”

-Walter Brueggemann

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