* Inspired by God.
* Triggered by Facebook group called “UK Methodists”
* And someone’s question “Please can someone explain to me why there appears to be such an “us and them” attitude in the church?”
* And reading through more comments than any sane person would wish to ever see.
Let us begin …
“it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple” John 10:23a
See – Jesus endorses Church. He went there. There are loads of references to Him being in the Temple. That is why we have to go to Church. That is why we should (if you really believe that is).
I am curious (!!) –
Has it ever crossed anybody’s mind that Jesus went to the temple so often because that is where “God” was contained in those times? The temple was the only place you could be forgiven. The great sacrifice and be cleansed industry had its home there. The rules, laws, sub-clauses and hair-splitting affecting membership of society had its home there. That is why people went there. That is where God lived. And if you wanted to fit in – you went where God was. To fit in you had to be forgiven all the sins you accumulated … breaking all the rules … meant to stop you sinning in the first place!
There was no ongoing debate about how to drag people inside the bricks and mortar in those days. We went there if we wanted to fit in. So Jesus went there because we went there. I am not sure Jesus went to the temple/church to keep his faith intact.
Because Jesus got very bad press from mixing with those who didn’t fit in. Who didn’t keep the rules and regs. Who were beyond hope. Beyond saving. Who had been excluded in concept and reality. The ones we borrow. The ones we like to think of as ourselves: non-establishment, non-Pharisee, non-hypocrite, non-sinner (okay we do sin – but only to “fit in” – we have already been forgiven really). We are all those “real people” Jesus loved so much – better than that other temple establishment bunch.
So did Jesus really go to the “great unwashed” because He loved them any better? Is that what we really think? That Jesus loved one bunch more than another bunch? And now loves us more because we love him? Is that what we really think?
I think Jesus went where people went.
People went to the temple to be saved – and to fit-in by being saved. The only place and way you could be saved. The only way you could fit-in. So Jesus went there as well. As well as the pubs and fields and fishing boats and tax gatherers’ houses. Because people were there as well. Jesus went to everyone.
Jesus died and rose for us – that great cleansing before now and after. For all of us. No one group more than any other. No groups at all. He died and rose for me. For you. And for you. He died and rose for each of us – one at a time.
And with those three days – the temple industry became irrelevant.
Overnight (!!) we all became walking talking temples – each of us with God inside. God still goes where we go. And it is not called the temple anymore. We don’t have to go to Temple (sorry – Church) to be forgiven. God goes where we go because he is inside each of us. That is why he still goes where we go.
So why do we go to Church?
Why do we bemoan falling numbers? Why do we spend such energy yearning for full pews? Why do some insist that missing church is sinning against God! Why are there (new and similar) unspoken rules and imposed etiquette in going to church? Turning up on time (if you loved God you would), sitting in the same seat each time, smiling at the same folk each time, all of us sharing that eye contact, that unspoken “we are saved” look. All dressing up for God (hey show some respect – this is God we have come to see), all knowing when to stand up, when to sit down, when to sing, when to join in the “chorus” of prayers, all familiar with the rules and regs. That small knowing smile (it’s a loving affectionate forgiving smile – honest guv) at the newbie, the ones who come only to get married, water a baby, bury a loved one, when they stand instead of sitting, sit instead of standing, head for their knees instead of sitting to pray, mumble along to the incantations, the voodoo, the mumbo-jumbo. You know who I mean – the ones who enter only occasionally. And show themselves up for what they really are – The Lost World sinners non believers – “them” – the ones who really need saving.
So just what would Jesus think if he rocked up on a Sunday morning (or whatever designated days worship takes place)? Because Jesus does rock up. He always will. He still goes where we go.
So what would he say to us – what does he say to us – what are we missing? Because when Jesus died and rose – the only reason for the temple industry died and was buried – never to rise again.
I think he might ask us this.
Why do you yearn for the “good old temple days” – the days when that was where God lived. The days when that was where you were saved, felt better, were able to fit-in, did it for so many reasons not of God but of man. The days when you needed someone else to call down God for you. To go to where God was. Why do you need these rituals and repetition and etiquette to invite Me into your church? Why?
And I think He does ask us this.
Every day. From the day He rose. Every day since then. Every day it is called today. I just think we don’t hear him too good.
We prefer to go grave robbing. Pick up the bones and remnants of the temple mentality. Put them in a box called church. And go there to be saved. And tell the world that is where they must come if they are to be saved.
Jesus went where people went. The temple mentality is dead.