Shake the Dust off

(Matthew 10:14-15)

We find comfort in the standards that we hold ourselves and our fellow Christians to: how we dress and how we act when we come to see the Lord in His house. But many times, I’ve seen this applied to newcomers, to those who aren’t even sure of their basic faith let alone a dress code. They could not possibly know the restraint that we’ve taught ourselves, so rather than welcoming their eagerness, we judge based on rules they never knew. Jesus of Nazareth was a Middle Eastern nomad travelling with a pack of less than upstanding men who rarely bathed or changed clothes, claiming to speak the Word of God. He would have been filthy to us, obnoxiously vocal, and more than likely we would have avoided sitting next to Him in a pew from smell alone. Remember that organized religion at this time was the Temple at Jerusalem, to us it would have seemed as structured as a rehearsed play: everyone had their places and knew their roles. I’ve been in many services where a man like that, or a whole family, would be escorted out by the deacons for disrupting service and worship, at times for saying amen too much, my own father doing so by request of the pastor. Seeing these “disruptions” bothered me, even before I knew why. Surely God was in the service and that needed respect, but how was it right to evict someone from the house of God? I wondered then as I wonder now if we as a church ever lost a chance to bring someone to Christ, because we were too busy throwing him out unawares.

Jesus was disruptive, first and foremost, to every religious group he found, because they led by human intention having structured the inspiration of God right out. He seized every opportunity he found to teach them, to save them, and to bring them back to that personal relationship with Him. He, as a newcomer and a foreigner to every church he walked into, taught the people with the Word of God. To the priests and leadership, this was a man who was pretending to understand God’s Word in a way only church leadership was ordained to do. When he got inside, he changed lives and worked miracles, to accredit himself as the Son of God and to then give them a true representation of God’s love directly man to man. Before he left, he would make sure to disturb the misplaced opinions of the church leadership and teach them what was expected of them from His teachings. Jesus came to be the man beside us in the pew, to remind us that a personal relationship with God was always the goal, with God’s love. Yet the Son of God would be turned away now because he was disruptive of our status quo. How many times have we missed a lesson in His love because we were too afraid of who may be on the other side to answer the door when someone knocks?

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