I had planned to just continue through the Gospels this week, right where we left off. But then big news about the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear disasters unfolding in Japan this week.
Add to that the proclamations from some "good religious people" and their leaders that all these kinds of things are warnings from God, meant – of course! – to make us understand that God is as asinine as these "good religious people" make Him out to be.
What a mess.
And it can really make us wonder which is scarier:
- the huge natural disasters,
- the human-science-made nuclear/biological/chemical/etc disasters-in-the-making, or
- the religious human beings of both "Right" and "Left" who are determined to "help" us get our minds through all this.
Which – it turns out – actually leads me right back to where I was going to be in the Bible anyway. Amazing thing, that Big Picture, when we understand the Bible as:
- guidance, and not slavery
- comfort, and not coercion, and
- companionship, and not domination.
This time, the Bible's talking about John the Baptist – the prophet-guy predicted about 700 years in advance by Isaiah (another prophet-guy) who said God was going to send someone ahead of Himself, someone to spout off and tell everyone it was time to clean up their act because God was about to step foot into the human arena.
(If we really read this part of the Bible right, it OUGHT to give us shivers down our backs).
And that's exactly what John the Baptist did. In fact, he spent his whole time working for God doing two things:
- Telling the good religious people of his day to stop choosing evil and faking godliness, and
- Telling people that -- as impressed as they wanted to be with him -- that they should save all that for the One coming up next – the One who wouldn't baptize with measly water, like John did, but with the Spirit of God Himself.
- Warn everyone that it's way past time to stop choosing evil and faking Jesus, and
- Tell everyone to hold on because the real Jesus is just around the corner.
To get there, think: Was John the Baptist always successful at getting people to see how anti-God they were? Absolutely not. He failed more often that not (if he hadn't, then the whole country of Israel would have been on their knees waiting for Jesus, instead of ignoring and later torturing and murdering Him), and he was pretty much guaranteed to completely fail among – whom? Which group of people? Why, the "good religious people", of course!
So, what did John have to share with us about them (and about us, too, if we aren't careful!)? Well, through what he said we can know:
- Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees came to publicly partake of God's forgiveness because they thought themselves more than worthy of getting that godly-goodness and avoiding the pains of hell – but all their "good religious people" airs were just garbage, producing nothing that God gives two cents about. And that meant their "repentance" was as much garbage as all their religious ways and acts, too.
- The Pharisees and Sadducees both assumed that their religious cultural background alone was enough to make them good enough for God – but they didn't realize God was already ready to cut all-show-no-production religious people off, and intended to do so shortly (and He did, when Jesus died on the Cross and canceled anyone ever finding God's forgiveness through what religious things they could do, instead of relying on God alone, ever again).
- John was giving people the chance to do a human ritual that would match (hopefully) the repentance in their hearts – but even that was going to mean absolutely nothing when the Real Deal showed up and cleaned house, sweeping away even those who seem to be good but actually store evil in their hearts.
For one thing, today's Pharisees we call "Right Wing Christians" and today's Sadducees we call "Left Wing Christians", and both are first in line at the religious trough, going on and on about their traditions and church-genealogies, letting everyone else know how "godly" and "spiritual" and "Jesus-like" they are.
Yet nearly all "Christians" are there because they want to avoid hell for themselves, or because they like the social club that cultural Christianity is, or because they like the politics of their "church" and the idea that God votes like they do.
But they're not there because they actually have it in their hearts to repent of being spiritual anti-Christs and carriers of the disease of "Religion" into the Christian fellowship.
In fact, they speak a lot about personal repentance, and like you I've witnessed the tears and wailing that goes with it (and which probably convinces them too, unfortunately). But what results is almost always either nothing, or a changed life (no more sleeping around, no more doing drugs, no more skipping church, becoming a church leader, etc) – but never a changed heart (turning away from pursuing wealth, treating everyone exactly the same, putting everyone ahead of oneself, loving even those who hurt them, making people see more of Jesus than oneself, doing things Jesus' way even when it totally costs, etc).
And the "John the Baptist" earthquakes/etc today are telling Christians (who supposedly know the scriptures and who are therefore supposed to be first to figure it out) that it's way past time to stop faking it.
Time to stop putting up religious human acts (that God never asked for) upon religious human altars (that God did away with thousands of years ago) and expecting God to be as giggly-proud of our ridiculous crap as we are.
Time to stop, because the next thing to happen – whether next month, next decade, or next century – is Jesus Christ coming back to earth to give us the consequences of our heart's reality, and not to pamper and reward our self-centered, spiritual self-delusions.
So, are all these earthquakes and things stuff to be afraid of?
Well, afraid of getting physically caught in them, yes. Afraid for those others who get caught in them, yes. But afraid of their message? No. Not if we're draining the religion-goo out of our hearts, letting the Holy Spirit rinse us clean, and then refilling our insides with just Jesus!
Remember the second part of John's message! Yes, we need to get our hearts true. But also – know that the One who loves you more than anything else in the universe is the next thing to come.
And when He comes?
- Had some pains? Not any more!
- Had some tears? Never again!
- Been overwhelmed? All done with that.
Come, Lord Jesus! Come!
This article written by Lynne at No Junk. Just Jesus. You can contact Lynne at NoJunkJustJesus@gmail.com.