Something About Religion
18 February 2016
Reading: Numbers 3-4; Acts 25
17 When his accusers came here for the trial, I didn’t delay. I called the case the very next day and ordered Paul brought in. 18 But the accusations made against him weren’t any of the crimes I expected. 19 Instead, it was something about their religion and a dead man named Jesus, who Paul insists is alive. (Acts 25:17-19 NLT)
The Roman governor Festus didn’t know the Jewish culture like his predecessor Felix. When he came into office the Jews inundated him with demands to sentence Paul to death. He responded quickly, thinking Paul must be a terrible criminal. When he met Paul and heard the charges against him, it didn’t make sense. What he heard was, to his inexperienced ear, “Something about their religion and a dead man named Jesus.”
Non-Christians seldom understand why different Christian denominations disagree, oppose, and even attack each other. We disagree and divide over all sorts of issues: Baptism method, Church government, Worship styles, Which Bible translation to use, and all sorts of doctrinal points.
To the uninformed outsider, it all seems so pointless. It’s “something about their religion and a dead man named Jesus.”
Jesus said that the world would know we are his followers by the way we love each other. Instead we often behave in such a manner that uninformed outsiders tend to think, “Christians? Oh yeah, they’re haters! They don’t like each other and they don’t like anyone else either!” Is that how we come across? Yikes!
Here are my questions for today:
• Can we learn to value right relationships as much as we value right doctrine?
• Can we learn to choose unity over uniformity?
• Can we get to the point the church reached in Acts 15 where James could say, “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us”?
Father, I know this isn’t easy, but please help me to know which things need to be issues and which don’t. Help me to be at peace with others who see things differently and to be a bringer of peace in relationships. May I value what is important to you. May I be an includer and not an excluder. Amen.