Are we living Like Christ? If we are then don't take what follows personal.

Has Christianity been responsible for turning people away from Christ because of its unlikeness of Christ? To be disliked by non-believers because Christians are like Christ is one thing...it is entirely a different matter to be disliked because we are not like Christ! The dislike of Christians by non-believers is because of what non-believers see when viewing the external understanding of Christian character namely, judgmental, ignorant, condemning, an I am better than you attitude, un-compassionate and hypocritical. Is it any wonder Gandhi said, “I like your Christ but, I hate your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” People say they are religious but they are intolerant. People say they are religious yet they are judgmental. A true Christian heart loves all unconditionally that includes, the ill (both mentally and physically), the old, the young, the wicked, the lost, the poor, the weak and even the strong, no one should be left out of the boat of the true Christian spirit, but many times they are, that is sad and distasteful.

Could it be that the rules and laws that are the mainstay of most of the Christian world blur the vision of who God and His gospel really is? Jesus came to show us the faithfulness and love of His Father, yet most of the Christian world puts their faith in rules and regulations rather than in Jesus. Do we really believe that if we work hard enough, learn the christianized language, live morally upright and obey the rules and regulations we will be justified by God. Along with that following the rules mentality, christians are quick to condemn and judge people who don’t follow the rules.

This was the Pharisaical attitude during Jesus’ time on earth.

The Pharisees were a political-religious group active at the time of Christ. “They prided themselves on their strict observance of every detail of Jewish law and extreme intolerance of people whom they considered ritually unclean” They lived their life guided by the old Jewish law. These laws and religious legalism blurred their vision of the love, grace and mercy of God. This is evident throughout the gospels, in John 8, when the Pharisees bring a woman who was “caught in the act of adultery whom they wanted to stone to death,” to Jesus, He shows her mercy. Furthermore, their rules kept them from accepting Jesus, the Messiah, He whom the prophets spoke of years before. Also evident in the Gospels, is the anger the Pharisees show at Jesus and his ministry, which inevitably lead to his death.

Today, Christianity is extremely rule-based. These rules control, how we collect and spend our money, how we obey the bible, how we idolize preachers, how we segregate from other believers and how we view and treat people. What’s worse is that they have created an “us and them” mentality, as we can easily see who does not follow our rules. We have become like the Pharisees, in fact we might as well take their name as ours, because we try as hard as we can to separate out selves from those who do not follow our choice groups rules.

People have often seen us sitting atop our high horse looking at those who scurry around beneath us who are not rule keepers with discuss.  When we are so blatant about our self-righteousness, is it any wonder that people are turned of by "Christians”? 

The way we do “church” is getting in the way of our working with God. This is demonstrated in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Why do the Priest and Levite pass the injured man on the other side of the road? They were to busy doing “church” instead of being the “Church” by putting rules and regulations above loving people. According to Jewish customs, dead bodies are ritually unclean, and to touch one would make you unclean. This cleanliness is extremely important to Jews, especially for a Priest or a Levite, who performed many duties in the temple. Now imagine you are a first century Levite or Priest, and you come across a man in a ditch, bloodied and either dead or soon to be. In order to preserve your cleanliness you might just walk right by him because of the rules.

How often does doing church get in the way of God’s work? How often do we walk right past broken places and hurting people in our world because Christians put more emphasis on doing church services than being the loving Church? What would it look like to really get serious about the word of God? I think the book would be experienced more like a life style than a rulebook. When we believe more in our rules than in the life of Christ we tend walk right by our place in God’s vineyard to a position that our group expects us to be in, and we act like the Pharisees.

Rules and legalism was not a part of what Jesus came to establish nor was it a part of His ministry; in fact, much of Jesus’ language in the Gospels seems to aim more at the condition of the heart, and less about the fulfillment of the law. Much like the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 19 where the Pharisee prays, “God, I thank you that I am no like other men, robbers, evildoers, adulterers or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”  It is as if  salvation and righteousness were step programs and after we’ve gone through all the steps, we are righteous and we flaunt it.

But is this what the gospel of Jesus is about? Jesus message is about honest hearts that are hopeful for and has faith in God’s grace and mercy. That is the meaning of the parable, and the tax collector who prayed, “God have mercy on me a sinner,” he spoke from an honest heart. He was far from confident in himself, but he is honest. That is were Jesus will meet us.

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