Have you ever known someone who rejected Jesus Christ because of an experience they had with organized religion or with someone who was a Christian? You know, walked away from church because of the treatment they experienced there? Ever talked to someone who chose agnosticism or atheism or some other “ism” because of what they saw as legalism or hypocritical behavior on the part of a Christian they knew? Do you know anyone that this describes? Does it describe you?
Friends, as I read the New Testament, I am so encouraged (and challenged) by what I see. Jesus Christ – the Son of Man, Son of God, Savior of the World – walked into a world full of religion and religious people. He interacted with them, and they interacted with Him. Their conversations are recorded for us on the pages of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.) In the interactions that Jesus had with many of these religious folks, we find Him rebuking their behavior, not embracing it. In one dramatic scene (that we will look at this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our morning sermon) He even turned over the tables of the religious elite and ran them out of the Temple because of what He saw. Based on these accounts, do you know what I have concluded?
Jesus rejected the same version of religion that many people have walked away from today.
It is quite possible that the same things that have disgusted you about religion also have turned the stomach of the God those religions claim to worship! Jesus came to “clean house” on religious corruption, while simultaneously “cleaning up” those who recognized their need for Him.
An authentic faith that pleases God is possible, by God’s grace, but demonstrating it requires that we avoid the imitations promoted by the religious leaders of the first century, and sadly by many today. This Sunday (August 18) at Wildwood in our 9:45 and 11:00 services, we will be kicking off a new sermon series called “Authentic” by looking at Matthew 21:12-17 in pursuit together of a genuine and authentic faith. Hope to see you Sunday as we begin a new school year/ministry year together!