Jews talking about how Jesus can’t be the Christ; “However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.” John 7:25-27
I read this and think, “Idiots! Here are the Jewish leaders, people who know Scripture inside and out and they still miss it!” It’s easy to look at the New Testament and wonder what the hold up was for these stuck-up Pharisees.They were waiting and anticipating a Savior, they looked like they had it together, they seemed so…ready. But they clung to pre-conceived ideas of what it all should look like. Their expectation involved less life-changing forgiveness and more kicking Roman butt. They wanted it their way and they wanted it to meet what they perceived their needs to be. They did not want it to be uncomfortable or to involve personal change that might rock their world. Ultimately they wanted it to fit into their nice, neat, explainable religion. Jesus didn’t “fit” and they ditched out.
It’s easy to shake my head. “Tsk, tsk ignorant religious people”, and then turn back to my own nice, neat, explainable religion. Right? As I finish the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan this month I keep thinking about how we often do what the Pharisees did; reduce God to a manageable religion that doesn’t interfere with our own comfort. “The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. That’s for the “radicals” who are “unbalanced” and who go “overboard”. Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.” Gulp.
I’m laughing (probably out of conviction) by the time I read Chan saying,“Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever.They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong.” Jesus called the Pharisees “white washed tombs” meaning they looked "right" on the outside but their insides were just as messy as Joe-Leprosy.
The Pharisees could control their lists. They knew what to expect on the Sabbath. I like to reduce my own life to lists: a checklist involving quiet time (read a chapter…check), giving (change in the offering bucket…check), fellowship (small group attendance…check), reaching out (fed homeless soup…check). Sounds good, noble, even balanced. I must be close to God now, right?
I am struck as I study the book of John that the very thing the Pharisees thought would prepare them for the Christ actually drove them away from Him. They thought they knew it all but it made them unwilling to change.“Sorry, we have it figured out and no way could the Messiah be from Joe-Joseph over in Nazareth.”
As I’m immersed in the life of Jesus I’m realizing that He doesn’t once claim to be balanced or manageable. Not only that but He calls us ALL to be “extreme” “radical” in our faith. That is what faith in Him is. It isn’t having our own ducks in a row; it’s following Him regardless of the cost.We need to stop looking at believers that inspire us, thinking only; “wish I could be like that” and start thinking; “just wait until my faith has increased to that!” “Lord, be real to me like that!”
I have a tiny understanding of what it means to have crazy love. At eighteen I tried my darndest to be rational and safe (to grow up, get a college degree, and achieve ‘balance’). Yet this twenty year old just insisted that I fall in love with him and follow him. What could I do? I’ll tell you what I did. I pledged my life to him and in my vows said “Wherever thou goest, I will go.” I smiled as I joined into his financial debt. I put aside a semester of college and worked at a lousy hotel so I’d never have to watch my love leave at night again. I ran out of money with him, stayed up late with him, dreamed big with him, ate chocolate chip mint ice cream and skied the mountains with him. Ahhh…it was worth it. I got something so much more lasting than if I had played it safe and practical or if I had thrown it all away on parties and “college life”.
How much more worth it is it to fall in love and follow with abandon my Savior? He doesn’t have debt- he has cattle on a thousand hills. I don’t even have to tell Him my dreams; he planted them in me. He is the best love story ever and it’s the one with a guaranteed happily ever after. Why would I ever succumb to urges that demean zeal and passion for Him? Why would I ever be half-assed in such a pursuit? I’ll sacrifice comfort. I’ll sacrifice knowing what’s going down on the Sabbath. I want to be willing to change. Don’t let me get set in my ways thinking I have it all figured out. I want a paradigm shift if it means shifting to the Truth. And much like following my husband-love, I know that when I say “I’m all in!” I’m in for a ride. So. Worth. It.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...