The Church Needs To Look More Like Jesus

John 7:14-24 (NIV)

Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Jesus’ words here go back to John 5. Jesus healed a paralyzed man on the Sabbath. Verse 16 of John 5 said that the Jews persecuted Jesus because He healed the man on the Sabbath. Verse 18 said that they were trying even harder to kill Him. It wasn’t just because He healed the man on the Sabbath, but because He was calling God His Father, which according to John 5:18 meant that He was making Himself equal with God. In other words, in their minds, Jesus was guilty of blasphemy.
I believe that Jesus teaches us a vital principle of the Kingdom of God here in chapter 7. People matter more than rules. He was calling the Jewish leaders who were trying to kill Him hypocrites because they would work on the Sabbath in order to not break the law of Moses regarding circumcision, but were trying to kill Him because He compassionately healed a man on the Sabbath. Their hypocrisy ran deep and their compassion was shallow. They loved rules more than people.
I think that God loves people more than our self-imposed rules. The 21st century church has to get back to the heart of Jesus’ ministry and that means loving people more than our man-made rules. We have to care about people more than our by-laws. I’m not talking about watering down or disobeying the Word of God. The Bible is God’s Word and it is the authority for our lives and how we do church. But when we elevate our man-made rules to the level of Scripture, we’re on very thin ice. I am convinced that God doesn’t care about our membership rolls as much as He does about lost people. He doesn’t care about who gets to use our buildings as much as He does about who we exclude from our fellowship because they don’t quite look like “us.” God only cares about our budgets when they don’t reflect His heart that beats for the broken. If we will not love like Jesus loved and care like He cared, then God wants nothing to do with us. When we are more worried about being “right” than we are about helping people get right with God by His grace, then we are wrong.
PRAYER: Father, forgive us when we don’t love like Jesus. Forgive us when we don’t reflect His compassion to a lost and dying world. Forgive us for our callous attitudes toward those who don’t know You yet. Have mercy on us, O God. We have wandered so far away from what Jesus wanted His church to look like. May we look more like Him in 2017. Amen.

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