Whatever they have done to me, they will do to you also. These are the comforting words of Jesus to his servants. Every action causes a reaction and the same actions will usually cause the same reaction. Good works cause knee jerks and sometimes just upset jerks. Though I hate the cliché every modern preacher seems to love: “It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship.” I am going to ignore it’s sweeping inanity and explore its implications anyway.
Religionists can’t have relationship without background checks. This stems from their assumption of superiority. Many times, I have travelled through border security at Australian airports and noticed the same bag checkers who smile and chat with the Australians suddenly become rude and arrogant with foreigners who speak other languages. I wouldn’t always label it for the most part as a conscious racism, but instead an ignorance that inhabits the subconscious of certain cultures and developed nations.
Now, I understand that borders and cultures and discrimination and division are viewed as necessary for preservation of habitat and way of life. I am certainly no globalist when it comes to politics. But every division from our beginning moves us further away from the whole, and the gospel is not about division but leading us back to the whole from which we all came, God being one. The call of the gospel for the disciple must always trump nationalism, even today. Christ is to become all and in all.
The religionists of Jesus day never got to get as close to him as the sinners seemed to. That’s not to say Jesus didn’t associate with his religious contemporaries, He sat and ate and drank with the pharisees on various occasions just as he did with the sinners and His disciples.
Religionists vs followers
We know that Jesus was deliberate in choosing and sifting His followers yet there remain comparisons which may be drawn between the questions those who became Christ’s disciples asked as opposed to the questions the pharisees asked Him. Enough to differentiate the type of questions God likes opposed to those He dislikes. The subtle differences can be the distinguishing factor between supping with true disciples or sharing a pit with a brood of vipers. The sort of thing that can be helpful navigating ministry circles and church gatherings.
The religionists seemed forever concerned with where Jesus came from, always asking Jesus, “Where are you from?”
Would be followers asked a much better question, one we can use when meeting new people, “Where are you staying?”
The answers Jesus gave to the religious leaders never satisfied them, so no relationship. The answer for the would-be disciples, “Come and see.” Those who concern themselves with someone’s present over their past are most likely to become and remain friends.
Religionists like to ask, “Who is your Father?” (Sometimes translated as “covering” for church people with suspicious minds). People moving toward relationship ask instead, “Show us the Father.” The difference between an attitude that says “I want to know whether you come from the right stock” to “I want to get to know your family” is vast.
If someone is doing the works of God it should be obvious who they are sent by. For someone to participate in your church ministry they should not need to find a name whose dots connect back to you and your own self-importance. Good works are self-evident.
When Jesus pointed out the religionist’s moral inconsistencies, they responded, “Master when you say these things, you offend us.” When Jesus revealed some personal moral conundrums to the woman at the well, she said, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet.” She then became a great evangelist and brought others to Him.
Live to please God
The religious got offended and tried to lead others away from Jesus. I have been on religionists naughty lists for having prayer meetings, praying too much and at other times for having a beer. John fasted and prayed, came from priestly lineage and offended the pharisees. Jesus ate and drank, and offended them too. If you fast, do it for your Father in heaven. If you eat and drink, give thanks and glorify God. Someone will always frown upon what you do, so live to please God according to Jesus’ teachings.
Religionists persistently demanded that Jesus tell them exactly who He is. (They like their doctrine spoon fed by someone else). Yet Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I AM?” (Allowance to get to know him and be taught by God).
There must be mystery in real relationship, time to get to know each other. The Pharisees were like modern day daters, insisting on knowing every single thing about someone before making a commitment. Sometimes we must let people follow God and do His will before they know what we think they should know.
Let them experience the joy of being taught something not by man, but by the Father in heaven. Maybe the best answer to give someone searching for God and asking where He is, is not a Romans road or sinners prayer or parroted Bible verse. Maybe the best answer is, “Come over to my place and see.”
Joshua Robbie is currently serving the Lord under Pastors Ronnie and Shirley Naidoo of KZN Celebration Centre in Tongaat South Africa. He and His wife Rene’ moved from Australia to South Africa in April 2016. Their desire is to help in whatever way they can so that the church can become all that God has purposed her to be. Josh is a painter by trade and also enjoys sports such as surfing, basketball and boxing. He has also written a book, now available for purchase on Amazon called: “Your Father sees: Living the sermon on the mount”.
Josh Robbie previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josh-robbie.html
Joshua Robbie is currently serving the Lord under Pastors Ronnie and Shirley Naidoo of KZN Celebration Centre in Tongaat South Africa. He and His wife Rene’ moved from Australia to South Africa in April 2016. Their desire is to help in whatever way they can so that the church can become all that God has purposed her to be. Josh is a painter by trade and also enjoys sports such as surfing, basketball and boxing. He has also written a book, now available for purchase on Amazon called: “Your Father sees: Living the sermon on the mount”.Josh Robbie previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josh-robbie.html