Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Devotional 150910

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I believe God is doing new and wonderful thing in your life today. This is our Lord who proclaims this, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). It is because of the work of the Holy Spirit in us, that we can accomplish great and fresh new things for His glory. Amen?

Most of us, most of the time, feel left out—misfits. We don’t belong. Others seem to be so confident, so sure of themselves, “insiders” who know the ropes, old hands in a club from which we are excluded.

One of the ways we have of responding to this is to form our own club, or join one that will have us. Here is at least one place where we are “in” and the others “out.” The clubs range from informal to formal in gatherings that are variously political, social, cultural, and economic. But the one thing they have in common is the principle of exclusion. Identity or worth is achieved by excluding all but the chosen. The terrible price we pay for keeping all those other people out so that we can savor the sweetness of being insiders is a reduction of reality, a shrinkage of life.

Nowhere is this price more terrible than when it is paid in the cause of religion. But religion has a long history of doing just that, of reducing the huge mysteries of God to the respectability of club rules, of shrinking the vast human community to a “membership.” But with God there are no outsiders.

God is the God of outsider non-Jews as well as insider Jews. How could it be otherwise since there is only one God? God sets right all who welcome his action and enter into it, both those who follow our religious system and those who have never heard of our religion (Romans 3:29b-30). God is bigger than our religion. Religion is a man made system in preserving some traditions, rituals or code of conducts that people use to experience God. It is easier and safer for believers or members of the same religion to identify with one another about their shared practice of belief system. It generates support and energy toward a religious piety. But religion could also confine or reduce the Almighty and unfathomed God into a man-made system – something within the finite system and human understanding of divinity. We do not want God to be dangerous and unsafe. Thus, a man made religion helps put God into a safe and secure container for people to “enjoy.” And the Son of God was killed by man made religion! He did not behave within the expectation of the religious leaders of his time.

Have mercy on us O Lord! How often we will replace the end by the means. Religion and church are supposed to be means to point us to the end – worship the Triune God. But throughout church history, religion and church could become the “end” that believers worship instead of God. Believers killed and fought against those who did not share the same tradition and ritual, even though they believed in the same Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing is wrong with religion and church if they are in the right place of serving as a means or agent to introduce people to the Triune God. But we should constantly recognize the fact that our God is much greater than human religion can contain and describe. We should abide in Christ but not in any man-made religion.

Enjoy His unfathomable love each day,

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