Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jesus is Ruthless

Have you ever thought of Jesus being mean?

Savior.  Teacher.  Healer.  Helper.  Risen.  Lord.  King.  Yes to all of those.

But mean?

Consider some of the things that he said to the religious people of his day:

You hypocrites!  Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15.7-9)

You are blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. (Matthew 23.24)

You clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. (Matthew 23.25)

You are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.  (Matthew 23.27)

And it just gets worse from there.  Making a whip and clearing a temple - that's an instance that comes to mind.

So why so mean?  Or is it mean at all?

I offer that it's not mean, but it is ruthless.  Jesus knows that religion (in the external form type of emphasis) keeps us from Him.  It keeps us dependent on ourselves instead of God.  It keeps us looking inward instead of upward.  And He loves us too much to let us go on in our self-absorbed addiction.  So He speaks ruthlessly and brutally, but He does so lovingly.  He does the former because He has to in order to get our attention.  The latter is true because of who He is.

So if it feels a little rough, it probably is.  And it's probably because you're religious.  He spoke tenderly to the grossest of sinners ("Woman, where are your accusers?  I don't condemn you either.  Go sin no more").  So if you're feeling scoffed at by Christ, check your religious-meter.  And if you enjoy Him scoffing at someone else, know that the words He speaks are for you, not for the other person.  It's a trait of religion to enjoy when curses fall on others.

Ruthless?  Yes.  But in love.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

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