One thing I know for sure.... When Jesus shows up in your church and starts changing lives, and you welcome messy and hurting people... The religious, "churchy" people get upset!
Take a second and read Matthew 12:9-14
Let's take a close look at what Jesus experienced when he entered the local church and changed a life.
- Jesus immediately recognized the needs of the hurting and broken
- The religious leaders were more concerned with the laws than the needs of the hurting and broken
- Jesus had to explain the value of a man's life to the religious leaders
- Jesus faced criticism and scrutiny for his desire to serve people
- The religious leaders conspired to destroy Jesus for His choice to heal the hurting and broken
I can assure you that when Jesus shows up at your church and begins to change lives, you will experience many of the same things. Religious people are more concerned with traditions and rules than they are with the needs of people. Religious people desire an environment that makes them feel safe and morally adequate. Hurting and broken people need a place that makes them feel welcome and loved. (Hurting and broken people don't show up when it's convenient and fits the schedule of religious people.) Religious people are more concerned with protecting their ASSets and environment than with the immediate needs of broken and hurting people. (Jesus says this directly about them going after a lost sheep before another man's needs!)
When you start focusing on the lost, religious people get uncomfortable. When you forgo traditions in favor of being relevant to hurting and broken people, religious people get angry. When lives begin to change, religious people feel left out. When Jesus changes lives, religious people get jealous because they no longer get the glory. When you pay attention to the broken and hurting more than the religious, like Jesus did, religious people will try to destroy you. If it happen to Jesus, it will happen to you if you're following Him.
But...Here's the key thing about Jesus, and the thing we need to do as well.....
In the midst of all of that, Jesus NEVER stopped pursuing the hurting and broken. Jesus never gave up and never gave in to the critics, skeptics and religious people. Jesus never compromised His mission in face of opposition. Jesus was never afraid of man's opinion! Instead of letting fear drive Him, He let love drive Him. As a result a man was healed, his life was changed and his pain was relieved! If Jesus has been afraid of their criticism, been afraid of their anger or been afraid they would walk away...Lives would never have been changed.
We have been called to reach the hurting and broken. We have been called to follow Jesus. If we let fear of critics, skeptics and religious people get in the way, we will miss out on the great thing God wants to do. If we let fear drive us, we will be at fault for lives not changing, people not being healed and love not being shown. Remember Proverbs 29:25 "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe." and let it drive you forward. People will criticize you, they will threaten and they will walk away. But, it's not you they are rejecting...It's Jesus they are rejecting, criticizing and walking away from!
Bottom line: DON'T STOP DOING WHAT GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO DO no matter the critics, the skeptics or the religious people's threats!