Or, more to the point, does my "religion" get in the way of people coming to God? Some things the pastor said during his sermon this morning got me to thinking about this question.
When Jesus was on this earth He was frequently encouraging, loving, and healing people. But there are a few times we see Him angry in the gospels, and these always involve religious people.
There's the account in Mark 11:15-18 where He turned over the tables of the people in the temple who were changing money and selling Doves for sacrifices. He asked them why they'd made His house a den of thieves when He wanted it to be a place of prayer for the nations. Jesus' heart was that He wanted His followers to be in prayer for the nations and instead they'd turned seeking God into a money making enterprise.
There's also the account in Mark 3:1-7 where one Sabbath Jesus is in the synagogue and a man with a shriveled hand was there. The Pharisees were watching to see if Jesus would break the religious laws by "working" on the Sabbath by healing the man. Jesus became very angry at their stubborn hearts. It's easy for me to be blown away at the Pharisees, to think that God in the flesh was right there with them, wanting to bring restoration and healing, and they were upset because he wasn't following the laws of their religion that were supposedly to follow after God. It's easy for me to think how this just doesn't make sense!
But what about me? Are there ways that I have inadvertently become steeped in religion to the point where I don't see what God wants? Am I missing out on being an agent of love, restoration, or healing into the lives of others around me because I'm too caught up in my own agenda?
These aren't questions that I can just answer. Instead, today I'm praying, and will be for the next few days, that the Holy Spirit would help me become sensitive and aware. That He would show me if my "religion" is displeasing to Him.
Have you ever had a time in your life when God showed you that you were more caught up in the trappings of religion than in pursing Him and loving others?
My Joy in the Desert
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