Main Passage: John 14:1-13
Secondary Passage: Matthew 5:13-16
What's the Deal?
Disenchantment with organized Christianity drives countless Christians and seekers of Truth to a smorgasbord of religions, cults, and idyllic philosophies in an attempt to find a stable ground for life in our uncertain world. The results are a confused hodgepodge that has led them further away from Truth than they care to believe. Its not until life-shaking issues crop up that they seek God, but it's still a hazy smear of Buddhism, Native American animism, a warped view of Jesus, and astrology, with touch of Wicca melded together in a smoldering stew. It doesn't take long before they go to Spiritual Science or similar groups that suggest we are all on our own spiritual path to find God (i.e. all paths lead to God". How can they all possibly lead to God? It seems our well-intentioned brothers and sisters in Christ have frustrated so many people by muddy-ing up the very image of who Jesus is. We are the representation of our risen Savior to show people the Way, the Truth, and the Life, so it's up to us to step out of our own selfish spots in the pew to be salt and light in the darkness where these people dwell.
Even the disciples were confused, but Jesus set them straight in John 14:1-13. They walked with Jesus for three full, amazing years. He even revealed His glory to His core men on a mountain when He was transfigured (Matthew 17: 1-3) See blog post, "Rocky Moutain High"). Yet they questioned who He was. Jesus made a clear statement, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (v. 6 emphasis mine). Then He said something that cuts to the heart, "If you really know me, you will know my Father as well." (v.7a) There are far more Thomases and Philips than Peters and Johns in our churches.
Jesus taught earlier in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:13-16) about being salt that seasons and preserves in our world, rather than salt that is worthless junk to be tossed out. He also went on to explain how we need light to see, so we put it in a prominent place so everyone benefits. Why would we want to hide our light, rather let our light shine so others might see God.
Honestly, too many Christian's lives are caught up in quick sand. Much of what we actually believe in our practices is not compatible with Christian faith; it does not match what we claim. We say one thing with our lips, but live contrary to the teachings of Jesus. We pick up junk along the way like reading horoscopes in the tabloids at the checkout line because we don't believe Jesus is enough. We pick up New Age practices because we are charmed by the allure of the Serpent in the chiropractor's office. We see ourselves as gods in our own rite in Yoga class. We have become dependent upon our own ability to make our own way in the world, but if the economy collapsed tomorrow, would we trust God to provide our needs? It's no wonder those who seek Truth leave the church because we tell them with our actions that Truth isn't offered in our churches. Sadly, many of us don't recognize the voice of the Shepherd because we've listened to too many other voices (John 10:27-29). We have little practical experience with our Living God. The wolf at the fence has convinced us in the pews that the grass is greener outside the fence where quick sand waits to swallow us alive.
The Truth of Jesus jaded people seek is enough, but they are running straight into the arms of Buddha. Jesus loves with an unconditional love, but Buddha looks more enticing because no one wants to think of being a sinner in need of a Savior. They feel condemned, yet they stand condemned already because they do not believe the Truth (John 3:18). While much of our offerings to God will burn up like chaff (1 Corinthians 3:9-15), those hurt by the church will either be condemned at the judgement (Revelation 20:15) or, if they are Christians who strayed, their works will be burned up so that they come into the Kingdom smelling like smoke as if they've escaped a fire (1 Corinthians 3:15). The problem is they've looked at God's people instead of looking to God. No wonder they are disillusioned!
Let's get rid of the confusing church fluff and get back to the basics of what church is really about. Many long established believers are caught up with entertainment and feel-good church life. My first husband actually put a "Hold" on all extras at a church where he pastored so the people would regain a proper focus on God's amazing Truth. Their eyes were opened to see what they were missing. They had no idea until our experiment was finished. With haughty glances by traditionalists toward those come into church with jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops, it's no wonder these newcomers feel unwelcome. We need churches to have more substance that makes a life-changing difference in people's lives.
People need to see a Savior who loves them, through us. I know of a church who turned a homeless man away who wanted to go to the worship service. They told him he wasn't dressed properly for worship. That incident confirmed to me and my family of this church's hypocrisy. We went looking for a church where the people lived out God's Word. Jesus never told us to drive people away, but to "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations", beginning with our neighbors (Matthew 28:18-20). It's time we learn to obey the Great Commission Jesus gave by showing love for our neighbors because we love our Lord (Mark 12:30-31). Let's be salt and light because Jesus IS enough.
May God bless you!