Monday, October 29

A personal focus

Scripture: Job 20, Mark 3-4

Mark 3:4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil; to save life or to kill?”  But they were silent.

Observation

Jewish religious leaders were hoping to catch Jesus working on the Sabbath, healing a handicapped man.  Jesus knew what they were up to and asked them this question, and their response was stony silence.  They didn’t want to say the horrible truth out loud.  They didn’t want to admit that their rules were more important to them than this man and his well-being.  

It gets worse.  Their hearts were so hard that after Jesus healed the man, they started plotting to kill Jesus!  This is religion at its worst: hard-hearted, misguided, murderous and hateful.  

Application

Years ago, the Lord spoke to me through this story.  He showed me that the religious leaders’ agenda was institutional: they cared about their institutions—the law, the sabbath, the temple—but not the person in need in front of them.  On the other hand, Jesus’ agenda was personal: He cared about the handicapped man, and was willing to ignore the rules and offend the religious to heal him.  

When religion becomes institutional, when it becomes about protecting our institutions, our rules, our churches rather than about loving and healing broken people, we will find ourselves aligned against Jesus.  

Last week, the Lord spoke to me and said, “I didn’t call you to save the church; I called you to save the world.”  It’s very easy to become focused on our religious institutions and protecting them.  It’s the kiss of death.  It’s the wrong focus.  It’s never been what God called us to do.  

Go love a broken world, starting with the person standing in front of you.  

I love the Church.  I love our church.  But my focus is not the institution of the church, but the people God brings my way each day.  Love people!  

Prayer: Lord, I don’t want to become religious.  I don’t want to have an institutional focus—I want to be like You and love people.  Help me today to love the person in front of me.