Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jesus = Sinner?

They thought Jesus was a sinner.

I think I probably would have thought so, too.

Wouldn't you?
This man comes in and defies everything they've known about what it means to be a Jew. He defies laws, he defies religion...he challenges their authority, he challenges their interpretations, he does things they've never before witnessed.

I've been thinking a lot about what that would look like for us today. Christians adhering to a strict moral code, judging all others who do it differently than us. We are right, they are wrong. As much as we don't like to admit it it, I think, at least for me, that's kind of how we view it. That's kind of how we live life. Striving for holiness and perfection...and that strife soon becomes a list of dos and don'ts. When anyone else strays from our interpretation of what that means, they are automatically wrong/sinners.

Jesus healed a man born of blindness on the Sabbath. Some of the Pharisees said, 'This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.'

What if Jesus came and healed, if he raised the dead, if he multiplied food, if he turned water to wine today? What would we say? I imagine, especially if He turned water to wine, that a lot of Christians would have a lot to say about that... and how He could not possibly be from God.

And sure, I know that culturally it's different and we can make those type of arguments all day long...
but I'm wondering if I'm the kind of Christian who is open-minded enough to allow Jesus to come and to do His thing and to simply follow and believe without judging, without condemnation, without fear, without skepticism, without doubt. Or I wonder if I'm the kind of Christian who would be exactly like the Pharisees.

Because, unfortunately, I think I am. And I bet a lot of you are, too.
We're so accustomed to what we've come to know as right and wrong, good and bad...but there's a large part of me, when I read Scripture, that makes me think that we don't really know. And what we think we know? I honestly believe Jesus could come and do it all radically different.

The Jesus that I've been trying to follow my whole life doesn't seem to be the Jesus that I read about in Scripture. The Jesus in Scripture is the giver of abundant life, He is healer, He is savior... and yet I feel that sometimes I'm following a Jesus of rules, guidelines, and strict religion. As much as we are a generation of believers who long to disregard religion and simply be followers of Jesus... I don't feel very successful in that endeavor.

I don't know how to separate the two. Because being a Christian means both striving for a life of purity and holiness and simultaneously receiving Christ's grace, love and mercy every day because nothing I can do can ever save me. I don't know how to strive for this holiness without quickly turning into a Pharisee. I don't know how to maintain the balance. I don't know how to allow for Jesus to do radical things in me and through people around me, to remain open-minded to Him coming and doing things different than I ever thought possible... and then also allow things those to be okay when they may be the very things I thought were sin or breaking the 'law'.

I don't know how to let Jesus come and heal the blind when He's breaking the law while He does it.
Because what does that say about the law? And what does that say about sin? Or...what I've always thought sin to be?

But maybe that's the point.
Maybe the things we thought were black and white sin....maybe they're not always so black and white. Maybe, in my striving for purity and holiness, I can't ever let it be about dos and don'ts and right and wrong. Maybe there's something fuller that I've been missing out on.... something deeper.

'Cause I don't want to be a Pharisee.
I don't want to miss out on following the real Jesus.
Because I've been religious my whole life... and I'm unsatisfied. I'm truly unsatisfied because I don't think I've allowed the real Jesus to penetrate my heart. I don't think I've allowed myself to really follow Him. And part of that is because I don't know how.

This remains unsolved for me for now.
My prayer today is that I would be open-minded and open-hearted enough for Jesus (the Jesus who went against all pre-conceived notions of what the Savior of the world would be) to show me who He really is and what it means to really follow Him. I think I'm willing to admit that it could look different for each of us. I think I see that in the way Jesus responds to various individuals throughout the Gospel.

I'm weary of not ever feeling good enough, of not ever believing enough, of not ever doing enough. I'm weary of religion.
Jesus came to give life...a whole life.
And that's not the life I've been living.

I'm not sure if any of that made sense... but it's where I'm at.
Where's the balance...? How do you strive for holiness/purity without losing yourself in the legalism and forgetting the Gospel?

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  1. I think there is something missing in this. You talk a lot about what you DON'T think Christianity should look like and about all the wrong perspectives people can have, but this post, I think, is missing what to replace it with. You know? If it's NOT this, then it has to be something else. Which, I think is kind of what you're asking. I think holiness and purity really just means striving to KNOW God more and more. Cause it's about intimacy with Him. When we spend time with Him we naturally start acting more like Him and thinking about what pleases Him.

    It's not scripture, but these lyrics really represent what I desire my relationship with God to always look like:

    "lockstep with my God and King
    move in perfect harmony
    feel the rhythms of His heart
    know the joy that He imparts"

    I think it's really about becoming one with God--loving Him, being sensitive to His will, striving to bring His kingdom to earth through your life.

    I guess we just tend to get too focused on doing things right and forget it's really all about intimacy with God. And I think the best way to not get off focus is through prayer. Praying about everything, from your random thoughts to everything you need. Then it's about your relationship with Him and it's about His power in all things--not what you can do or whether it's enough. Humility that comes through intimacy.

    Hope that helps.

  2. Maybe.
    I think my struggle comes in with even having a 'this is how it needs to look' at all... I don't know if there's a SET way for all of us. Which is why I don't provide an answer in this post...and yes, it is the question I'm asking.. if all of this stuff ISN'T it, then what is? I think it will look different for me than it does for you...and I think it could look different for me tomorrow than it does in ten years. Mostly I just think that even saying 'prayer' as a general answer can foster feelings of guilt when that doesn't work for everyone, ya know? And I don't think Jesus breeds guilt. There's godly repentance, but not guilt. Because prayer and 'intimacy' with God can easily become a legalistic thing as well.

    I'm not sure if that makes sense.
    I guess I just want to acknowledge that following Jesus can look differently for each of us... and different for each of us a different times in our lives. I don't think it's an easy answer. I'd probably say it's more about obedience than anything else (according to what I continue to read in Scripture about what it means to love God)... but that feels complicated, too.

    I'm glad you've figured out what works for you!
    I'm still sorting through it. And, perhaps, what works for you right now will work for me at some point in life... and probably has before, actually.
    I just think there's something else that I haven't tapped into yet.

    Thanks for your thoughts as I continue to sort through things.

  3. While this doesn't really answer your parting question, it is still a worthy read and could potentially elucidate what you're talking about: