If we lived in Jesus’ day, who would we have hung out with? The Pharisees or the partiers?
Maybe we would say neither, reasoning that we aren’t legalistic, nor of looser values.
But Jesus wasn’t legalistic or lacking moral direction. Yet, he hung with the partiers.
Because he was drawn to their hungry hearts. And who wouldn’t want to hang out with the crowd that is laughing and having a good time, versus the one policing righteous behavior?
I doubt any of us want to fall into the ditches of truth without grace (legalism) or grace without truth (permissiveness). So why do we struggle? Why is it difficult for so many of us to walk in freedom rather than religious legalism?
I wonder if part of it is because we look through our own grid at our behaviors rather than God’s grid.
We live in a world that rewards and punishes. God’s kingdom actually works in a similar way but from a different starting point.
The world focuses on outward behavior and doesn’t care much about inward motivations or dynamics. God sees what others overlook. He sees the woman the world applauds as having it together on all fronts—–volunteers at church and for the PTA, shuttles growing kids to all their events, has a ready smile and is eager to help a friend in need…and is dying of loneliness and pain on the inside.
The woman who tries to find peace through serving, through doing that one more thing that brings a false assurance that she’s on the right path. That she’s a good Christian.
She reads her Bible, she has her quiet time, she prays, but she feels like God is a thousand miles away. So the message the enemy brings? She’s needs to do more or try harder and when that doesn’t work, she just wants to give up.
The Path Before Us
We have many paths in front of us, but there are two that I believe stand out in the collective believers’ world. The path of freedom and the path of religious doing.
Some of us choose freedom and some choose the doing. Why? Why would any of us choose anything but freedom?
Maybe because the doing is so familiar. That it makes sense to us that good behavior and good deeds are what pleases God. After all James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-23).
But is it possible that many of us are trying to get to faith through works, rather than letting works flow from relationship with Him?
When we have intimacy with God, we are so in love with Him that His love flows through us and we naturally find ourselves loving and serving others (works). It comes through connection with God and brings rest and joy and peace to our lives. We “work” with God rather than for Him.
There is a terrible danger in working so hard to please God in our actions and thoughts without connection with Him. That kind of “doing” takes the place of intimacy.
Like a workaholic husband who says he’s sacrificing for his family.
He isn’t known by them and he doesn’t know them. Not much more than facts, and not in the intimate and sacred places of his wife or children’s hearts.
We can fall into that place when we don’t make knowing God and being known by Him our deepest longing.
God, I want to be known by You. And I want You to teach me who You are and how to connect with You. Take me on a journey into Your heart where we live life together. Help me to recognize when it is the world speaking lies to me and help me to understand Your truths. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Happy World Photography Day!!! by Vinoth Chandar via flickr
Path photo via Pixabay