Friday, April 10, 2020

Barrier No. 2: The Institutional Church

Much of Jesus’ week in Jerusalem was spent dodging tricky questions from the Pharisees and other religious leaders. They wanted him gone and he was too good at not being caught, not by being tricky in return, but by staying focused on what was really and truly important. They asked questions about taxes, marriage after death, and what the greatest commandment is. And the reason was that he had upset the balance of power, not by creating an imbalance, but by removing the imbalance. Jesus removed the institutional religion barrier to God by challenging the gate keepers who were in power.

Jesus used the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-32) to point out that it is not the label you wear as the obedient son, but the actions you take to carry out the will of the Father that is the most important. This means that those who assign the labels are not the important ones, but rather the ones acting in obedience to God who have access to the Kingdom.

For your reflection:

What are the discussions that organized religion is having which has nothing to do with the Gospel?

What are labels (read status or achievements) that you are trying to achieve in order to be accepted by the church? Are these from God or created by a human institution?

Have you ever taken to heart someone else telling you that you are not accepted by God’s Kingdom? What does this reading of Jesus’ teachings do to help you fight that idea?

God, may we understand that you are the ultimate judge and that the church, while the body of Christ, is not God. May our worship be focused on you and may we, like your son, Jesus Christ, illuminate the path towards the Kingdom of God for others instead of focusing on keeping them out. May we the church not be the barrier to people finding a relationship with you, but instead be the example of love that they need to better know you.

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