Most Christians desire very deeply to be known as gracious, kind, patient, and forgiving. We feel we â€œoweâ€ it to Jesus to be seen on our best behavior. This is even truer for those of us in â€œthe ministry,â€ whose lives are publicly attached to Jesus. Now, some of the motivation behind this is beautiful (weâ€™ll look at the rest in a moment). We know how horribly religion has distorted the worldâ€™s view of God, and we want very much to gain a hearing for Jesus, so we go to great lengths to reassure the wary that those aligned with Jesus are really great people. In fact, nowadays most Christian leaders bend over backward to come across as very cool and hip and in no way whatsoever judgmental or condemning. Itâ€™s the new PR campaign for Jesus.
The problem is, in our efforts to be good poster children for Christianity, we have sort of hidden or left off this other side of Jesusâ€™ personality. The man is dead serious about holiness.
â€œWoe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.â€ (Matthew 23:25â€“26)
I would love to have heard his tone of voice, seen the expression on his face. I think we can be fairly confident that when Jesus thundered, â€œWoe to you,â€ everyone just about wet their pants. And what is the issue here? Shallow holiness. Faking it. Ignoring the deeper issues of the soul. As far as Jesus is concerned, holiness is a matter of the heart. â€œClean the inside of the cup and dish, and the outside will be cleaned as well.â€ The model of personal transformation that Christianity offers is internal to external. Itâ€™s a transformation of the heart, the mind, the will, the soulâ€”which then begins to express itself externally in our actions. This is absolutely critical in order to understand Jesus and his genuine goodness.
For Him, Relationship is all there is.
Everything else is simply a natural result of the life and growth of that genuine, tangible, two-way Relationship between You.
This is the Gospel.
Are you living it?
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