When following Christ becomes more about measuring the length of our shorts and less about doing whatever it takes to see the face of Jesus – we’ve completely missed the point.
Hushed whispers are heard about a girl wearing a skirt “that causes boys to stumble” meanwhile she’s just desiring to know what it really means to worship, and not just sing songs. We look at her with disdain, distracted in our own worship, and gossip under the guise of, “I have a prayer request..” or “So proud of you, but if you could protect the eyes of the men around you, that would be great.”
The guy who takes a smoke break mid-service, is “prayed for to be broken from his sinful habit” behind the glass doors he’s standing in front of. As he inhales a long breath from his cigarette, he prays, “God, I just want to know you more. I want genuine relationships with others, and with You.” As he walks back in, reeking of smoke, the congregation rolls their eyes, without any acknowledgment of the hidden sin in their own lives.
We’ve become Church followers, rather than Christ followers.
It has become about looking “right”, sounding “right”, doing “right.”
Not about recklessly chasing after the Master.
I don’t know about you but I want to take Jesus up on that offer of “life to the full” (John 10:10b) and I won’t get that by sitting alone in my apartment thinking of ways to chase Christ & the life He offers or by judging the way that others pursue Christ. I’ll get that by taking adventures, being with people not just Christians, and seeking to share the joy I have with others.
Surprise! This does not require a 20-minute sermon with 3 points and 4 Bible verses.
Because the enemy has gotten us to focus on where other Christians are on their paths, and not the passionate pursuit of our own, we’ve gotten sidetracked. While we’re looking at others to the right and left, we’re tripping over those we are supposed to help up, and veering left or right and missing opportunities.
We’ve created our own list of what it means to follow Christ, instead of drawing it from the Word of God.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40, NIV)
LOVE is the heart of the two most important commandments. Everything else falls by the wayside in the sight of love. It’s not that we shouldn’t strive for righteousness, but I think far too often we focus on our works and not our faith. Then we go on to judge others based upon made up rules, and quote verses at them out of context.
We are operating on GUILT + CONDEMNATION rather than LOVE.
I am the first to say I get so caught up in the outside appearance + self-righteousness, and quit cultivating my inside. I focus on perfection, rather than progress.
The GREATEST thing about righteousness is that we can never attain our own.
It ONLY comes from Christ! (Philippians 3:9)
Stop working to perfect your righteousness by passing judgment on one another, and instead, focus on the surpassing greatness of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:8)
Instead of being obsessed with the righteousness or unrighteousness of those around you, thirst for pursuing Christ as best as you can, loving others the way Christ does, and the rest of what God wants for your life will begin to unfold.
EDIT: A friend of mine brought to my attention that I should make the comparison between following Christ & following legalism. I am a FULL supporter of the Church body and believe wholeheartedly that we need one another and that the Church body both encourages & uplifts. My qualms are with our legalistic attitudes within the church institution toward those outside and inside our own walls. I repeat, I fully support the church and love the two I am a part of, both in B-Norm & Rockford.