Just what the Catholic Church feared, happened. Luther and Calvin stirred the masses to rebel against the power of the established church. Dirty, poor, smelly, vulgar, lower class citizens joined the protest and soon had Scripture they could read for themselves.
In regulating purity, the church had become corrupt, exercising authority it had no business taking.
Luther had flaws – yet, it was only after reading Scripture for himself, he discovered that faith in Jesus Christ is the means of salvation. Not faith in a church, a saint, a priest or in good works.
This has been the conflict since the Beginning.
Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Samson, David, Rahab, Isaac, Zechariah, Thomas, Paul… Every human recorded in God’s Word were flawed. Every human enters the world with a nature wanting its own way, and desiring to submit to no one.
We’re not perfect (can we state the obvious one last time?). And no one person has a corner on the market of truth.
Still, somehow God is able to use us in our imperfectness to accomplish His purposes.
This alone should bring us to our knees, like the Publican. God, I just come to you for mercy, not because I deserve it, but because I need it and You alone can give it.
A living dog is better than a dead lion.
In the Old Testament God emphasized the need to distinguish between the holy and the profane. But He had to show us how unholy we were, before we could understand how holy He is. And how only His holiness can change us when we let it. When we Come, instead of hiding or holding back.
In the New Testament God told Peter not to be confused, because what was once common had been made clean.
Peter erred another time, when he told Jesus, Oh, no, you’ll never wash my feet!
But how did the Savior reply?
If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.
Then wash the rest of me, too, Peter said.
He got it.
The religion of Jesus is one of getting in the trenches with the best and the worst of us. His religion is called Relationship.
Yes, because Jesus came, the rules appeared to have changed. But in reality, they’d been condensed. Simplified.
(Yeah, God invented Simplicity, too.)
The Judaizers were the bad guys, trying to bring believers back under the restrictions of the Law. The Law that Jesus designed for a specific period of time and then fulfilled.
Pharisees looked good on the outside, while their attitudes, intentions and desires played in the gutter. In burdening themselves and others with their mistaken interpretations and ideologies, they failed to recognize the Messiah, and couldn’t see how far they’d strayed. They were blind. And others who were blind followed them. Because their hearts were closed to the truth – not because of erroneous Bible translations.
God said to let the wheat and tares grow together. It’s His kingdom, His church. He’ll handle the preserving and purifying, and He’ll sift and sort through things in His time, in His way.
Toward the end of the Gospel of John, Peter asks Jesus what His plans are for John. Basically Jesus tells him to mind his own business and follow Him.
…on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18
Believers today still miss it – adding human philosophies and traditions to Bible principles.
The One who built the Church is more than capable of maintaining the church and overseeing its purity. My responsibility is to keep myself pure – a task challenging and big enough for a lifetime.
Cast your bread upon the water. Scatter the seeds across the ground. Pour the ointment till the jar runs dry.
Do we get it yet? We’re part of the New Covenant now. The Grace Covenant. The Jesus Covenant.
The Only-two-laws Covenant: Love God. Love each other.
Whatever you do, make sure it’s blanketed and oozing with love. Because the world will know you belong to Me by the way you love each other. (Not by your shrines or sanctimony.)
The Only-two-ways-to-worship Covenant: In spirit. In truth.
The three qualities Heaven values: Doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with our God.
If you want to be forgiven, forgive others.
If you love Me, it’s simple. Obey Me. Set aside your desires to follow Mine, and I’ll give you more fulfillment than you could ever imagine.
Seek wisdom and speak truth and do right.
Let your voice echo continual prayer and praise, without stopping and in all circumstances.
Take what you’ve been given and go, disciple the nations, every nation, near and far. Walk every highway and look behind every hedge, and urge the people to come. Yes, even the dirty, smelly, vulgar ones. Anyone. Everyone. Whoever. Wherever. Come.
This is why Islam rejects Jesus’ divinity – for this very idea that a true God would never take on flesh and become a man or become like man, to lower Himself, to humble Himself, to do anything less than Divine, to get close enough to get His hands dirty from my imperfectness and yours.
But they miss the point.
Jesus used dirt and spit to work miracles.
And God shaped the first man from dirt.
Then He clothed Himself with that same dirt, and walked dirt roads, and stayed in homes with dirt floors, and drank water from earthen jars.
And someday He’s gonna create new dirt.
Oh how we need to open our eyes! How we need to get into the Word and beg the Holy Spirit to aid us in discovering how much we’ve been missing.
Yahweh… the God who is personal.
Immanuel… the God who is with us.