Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Balance in Extreme

So sorry for the long few days of silence this week, I have been working on writing a bible study series and was working on putting the finishing touches on it.  It is taking all my self-control to steer away from the topics covered in it because they are very exciting to me! Of course, I don’t want to give anything away to my girls group who will be my guinea pigs for testing it out!

Every time I sit down to write something I am going to use to teach people with; I always learn something.  It’s not always related to the subject I’m researching even, sometimes there are just little nuggets of truth I find every time I open my Bible that are very applicable to life.  This time proved no exception and as I dove deeper into the background of the passages I was using I found myself going down rabbit trails leading me to more interesting truths.

I’ve always known a lot about the Bible, the stories, the history, and all the little facts that really impress church people when you can spout them off.  I used them mainly for making my Sunday school teachers look stupid and showing off to the kids in my Bible classes.  My dad is probably the smartest guy I know when it comes to all the Bible stuff and what’s more amazing to me is the passion he has for it.  I remember many times when I was little when he would come home so excited about learning something new that my little brother and I would sit at the dinner table wide eyed while he told the story of his new found knowledge.  Now I’m the one coming home anxious for him to read what new things I have learned.

Today’s little nugget is this, did you know that there were men among the rulers who believed in Jesus but were too afraid to admit it because of what the Pharisees would do to them?  Maybe it was just me but I always thought that Jesus’s followers were mostly the poor or the social outcasts and definitely not any of the religious leaders that’s for sure!  Don’t believe me? Here ya go!
“Nevertheless, even among the Jewish rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they would not confess Jesus to be the Christ, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.”

When I first read this I was confused somewhat, I mean, this is Jesus we’re talking about right? So if they believed in him why would they be so scared of the Pharisees?  Then things clicked with me.  The Pharisees were their spiritual ties to God, getting on their bad side was essentially getting on God’s bad side.  It was engrained in their minds, they had grown up hearing that their whole lives, not only that but losing standing with them meant losing standing with everyone.  It would bring great shame and they desired that praise from the people around them.

How true this is to how we operate today.  We have leaders within the church telling us the grace message is wrong because it encourages people to sin or that extremes are evil so we need balance between grace and justice.  So then even the pastors who believe in the freedom found in grace water down their messages and mix them with a little law so they can say they aren’t extremists.  They sell out because, let’s face it, everyone desires that praise from men.

I understand why they’re scared because I’ve seen Pharisees throw people out of the church, question their integrity, and intimidate with guilt and the fear of being shamed.  You didn’t think that was all just in Jesus’s day did you?  Look around you, check your churches, your schools, and your Christian radio stations, you will find them there.  They will tell you things that sound good and logical because our minds have been hardwired to the ways of this world.  God is much bigger than that.

I am an extremist.  I always have been one to go big or go home, both in my successes and in my failures.  Now I am all about extreme grace because that’s the only thing that changed my life.  My advice is to be courageous. Stand for what is right even if it costs you the praise we all crave.  Open your eyes to how proud God is of you even when you mess up.  I promise you will find much more balance in the extremes.  

*John 12:42-43

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