Church should make us remember that Jesus is dynamically present and active now (not just a vague remembrance from the past). Remember and refocus on Him in the now as you read this!
“Behold and become.” We need to do more than remember Jesus in the past. As heart-warming as that is, an occasional memorial or celebration of history isn’t enough for an awakening level of faith. We need to recognize and be reminded to be constantly aware of His presence and leadership in the now. “Do this to increase your awareness of My ongoing presence with you, in you, and through you.” Our faith needs to be far deeper than an annual collection of religious ceremonies. We desperately need to continually behold and become.
God’s Spirit leads to humility, truth, and justice. Many individuals and congregations don’t want to go there so they choose to follow a preacher or program instead. If churches would stand for truth, there wouldn’t be so many secrets that are hidden and hushed up in congregations.
For me following the church calendar is a distraction from my daily relationship with and dependence on the presence of the now Jesus and what He wants me to think, say, and do moment by moment. If I rigidly follow an annual, it may keep me from being led by the Spirit. It may cause me to read a Scripture that isn’t the one the Holy Spirit has chosen for me at that moment and to miss the one that He has.
So why did Jesus follow some of the religious format of His day? The age of the Spirit had yet to be released. In the age of the Spirit, Christ-followers don’t become united by following the same script throughout the year. We become united by beholding and obeying the risen, present Jesus every moment.
Would you like for someone you love to keep their eyes fixed on a calendar that schedules every year that you have together in the same way? Or would you rather they interact with you personally from the heart. I think Jesus feels the same way.
People who have a spiritually alive relationship with the living Jesus are too often quenched when they are systematized by organized religion. I’ve seen it happen many times. When one person controls the mic in church, he controls the narrative in the congregation and the full truth isn’t able to emerge.
In these troubled times the nations of the world desperately need gatherings of people who know how to listen to and obey Jesus together and to be the interactive, Spirit-led body of Christ. The purpose of preaching is to introduce people to the risen Jesus so they can and will listen to Him directly. Most preaching instead makes people dependent on and subservient to the preacher.
Religion is convenient like a thermos. It can hold the warmth of God when we want it and keep it out when we don’t. The people who are the least forgiving are often the people who need forgiveness the most. Jesus meets that need for those who know they need Him.