Day 19 – A Path or a Roadblock
I had the honor of hearing and responding to the message of Jesus Christ as my Savior before I was 5 years old. The church where I heard that message certainly preached the Gospel clearly enough for me to understand, but they also added on an abundance of legalism, caring more about whether you wore jeans or didn’t wear a tie to church rather than about your heart. Fortunately, when I was 12 years old, we connected with a new church in the 70’s that had exploded with excitement as young radical ‘Jesus People’ were transformed by the Gospel message. This has given me a special love and understanding of the Pharisees, and an appreciation and love for ‘Jesus People’. In fact, I describe myself as a recovering Pharisee, so as I describe the woes that Jesus delivered to the Pharisees, I feel their heat! If you’ve ever wondered why the religious leaders and even the crowd turned on Jesus in the days before The Crucifixion, all you have to do is consider His words to them, in the 7 Woes he preached, and imagine theses words being spoken in today’s churches, temples, and mosques:
Matthew 23:13-14 (ESV)
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”
Hear it again in modern words from The Message:
Matthew 23:13-14 (MSG)
“I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either.”
I once saw a Twitter post that said, “Many churches today serve as a cul de sac on the road to heaven!” I have also heard non-believers say that the lives of Christians are their biggest barrier in making the decision to follow Christ.
Lord help me, in my life, to serve as a path to you and not a roadblock. May my church be a place where all feel Your welcoming presence and Your love!
Rev. Andy Bales
President/CEO of Union Rescue Mission