Church is one of the best places in the world to hide. No, not from vampires, werewolves and the walking dead. That’s Hollywood stuff. Church is where people can avoid faith and avoid God by becoming religious.
Churches are often filled with respectable people, or people who are doing their utmost to look respectable. And it was the respectable people of Jesus’ time–the Bible scholars, legal experts, theologians- who made sure that Jesus ended up on a cross. Ironically, it was the socially disrespectable people-the lepers, prostitutes, embezzlers, and heretics-who loved him.
In his 1983 book The People of the Lie, Psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck suggested that people who are afraid to face their own failures and frailties often find faith communities to be great hideouts. Such individuals can hate while pretending to love- and often find spiritual language (and Scripture verses) to back up their actions.
So why did the respectable people murder Jesus? He threatened to blow their cover.
The Way of Jesus compels us to take a long, hard, fearless look at our own lives. We will be shocked by a lot of what we discover. We can either throw ourselves on God’s mercy (an option that terrifies or offends respectable people) or re-double our efforts to look amazingly religious.
Why were the “worst” people of Jesus’ time drawn to him like iron filings to a magnet?
They had no illusions about the condition of their lives. They knew from the start their only hope was God’s mercy, and that’s what Jesus was offering.
How, then, should you feel when you come face to face with your own brokenness?
Be glad. Be very glad. God has you right where he wants you.
Ron Naylor, Chaplain