“Masses are lining up to be touched by this self-proclaimed faith healer. He has planted actors in the crowds to build the mass hysteria. He constantly questions century old traditions (religion) passed down from the church fathers. He travels with a group of women (one of them a known prostitute), and spends a great deal of time hanging out with prostitutes, drug addicts and the like....he apparently prefers their company. We consider this man a false teacher. We find it hard to endorse this man, because he clearly does not live a lifestyle that is ‘above reproach.’ He spent time alone with a woman, and he did it with a divorcee who was living in an adulterous relationship in Samaria!” ---Joy Forrest, Called to Peace Ministries, imagining what modern day journalists may write about Jesus in the 21st century.
No wonder Jesus was frustrated with the “religious leaders” of His day. They were self righteous, hypocritical people who used the church for their own glory, power, and prestige. Unfortunately, this attitude continues to rear its ugly head in today’s Church. “(Jesus) told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’ Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” Luke 18:9-14 (MSG)
Heavenly Father, Jesus turned religion upside down. You sent Your Son because You want a relationship, not religion. I confess my sin and choose to follow You. Help me have the courage to stand against religious people; to follow and serve You and You alone. Help me to recognize and cast off judgmental attitudes. Holy Spirit, keep revealing Your Word to my heart so I continue to see how Jesus lived and loved others; and to become more like Him. Amen.