This week, one of our fellow bloggers, Bob Trube, spoke to our congregation this past Sunday on John 8:31-49. He brought out a phrase that I have heard numerous times. “I love Jesus, but it’s the church that I hate.” Powerful words are they not? Have you heard that before? Maybe you have even stated it yourself a time or two.
I know it is a phrase that I have said more than once. Sometimes our view of Jesus and the church can be so radically different. Jesus is to be loving. Some in the church can hate. Jesus is to welcome all. Sometimes the church denies people access into their “click” because they have different opinions, thoughts, political views or even look different. Jesus is to be accepting of us just the way we are. The church tells us we have to be like them or go to hell.
Here is the issue I have with what I have just stated, although some of these statements may be true, they are not true of every church. I also think that although Jesus is loving, welcoming and accepting of us coming to Him just as we are, it does not mean He will not want us to change.
Mark 1:15 says, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (NIV). These are the words of Jesus. Notice that He says repent first. Repent is to turn around. To do a 180. To change. To be different than you once were…then believe. We often flip these in their order. When we do so we often never get to the repent part because we think that the belief is enough. Yet Jesus calls those who believe in Him to a lifestyle change.
In today’s passage as Jesus confronts the believers that He is talking to, they are angry when he tells them that they are not acting upon what they know is right. He tells them they are still slaves to their sin (v. 34-38). He tells them that they need to change their ways. This is the part of Christianity that EVERYONE has a problem with. If we could all just live the exact same lifestyle as before we came to Christ, then all would be good right? Yet, Jesus (and the church) demands more of us. Saying you love Jesus is just one of the first steps in the process.
So are we changing? Are we being transformed by Christ? Are we as the church living to the example that Christ called us to? We are all sinners in need of His grace. We all need His forgiveness. We are all no better than another. Jesus does love us all, desires to welcome us all into His kingdom and is accepting of us just as we are when we come to Him. I hope you will consider these things if you are a part of the church or not. But make sure there is more to it. Jesus does desire us to change and grow. If we don’t then what is the point?