Christ's Victory Over Man-Made Religion
by Patrick Roberts 12/10/2007 / Christian Living
Be encouraged that the Christ was raised amidst the most religiously hindered people in the world, yet He used these same people to spark a worldwide spiritual fire.
The Jewish people of the first century where part of a religious tradition so hopelessly engrained in self-centeredness that they reserved the exclusive right to hoard all the answers for themselves. They thought God was impressed by their religion. However it was for their know-it-all mentality that they remained utterly clueless about God's priorities. The same thing applies to us modern, callused Christians. In Christ, we can embrace this truth and at the same time find encouragement.
We can look hopefully upon ourselves only so far as it reminds us how God chooses some of the most unlikely, weak, hard-hearted people the world has ever known to make His greatness all the more obvious.
We religious Americans resemble the Jewish nation of New Testament times both in our callousness as well as in our horrifying treatment of Jesus Christ. The Jews rejected Him because He didn't fit their small-minded bill. So also we western Christians crucify the Lord on a regular basis with our rebellious faith-performances. If Christ came to the United States again in bodily form, we would have to either give up all the religion we hold dear or we'd have to reject and kill Him to preserve our traditions.
Therefore we have encouragement in God's irresistible grace. He has a track record of using the most stubborn, religious hearts to benefit of His eternal goals. For example, Jewish-background believers accomplished some of the most widespread, ground-breaking work for God's kingdom soon after Christ's resurrection. God used those first few Jewish believers to send such shockwaves through the greater, unsuspecting, gentile world that we are still feeling their effects today. Who would have guessed? Not only did God spare those rebellious, little people, He also transformed their stubborn hearts and then put them to work advancing His world-wide kingdom. In light of all this, we might dare to esteem ourselves useful to God. We Americans are not out of reach of God's grace.
Be encouraged also by all the prophets that went before Christ who seemed to accomplish nothing more than rejection, suffering and, ultimately, getting themselves killed. Christ's ministry on earth also seemed to end horrendously. But God draws miraculous success out the most unexpected scenarios, a truth that is epitomized for all time in His Son's resurrection from the dead. The prophets and finally Christ obeyed God by dying so that there would be no doubt that God alone accomplishes our spiritual success.
Prophets of old and then finally Jesus Himself died fleshly deaths from which God grew glorious, renewing, spiritual growth. Christ's faithfulness in particular was the crown of all spiritual success forever. Such heavenly, Spirit-led victory flies in the face of all the hopeless self-destructiveness of men, who have been hell-bent from Adam onward.
Christ conquers situations which, in men's estimation, seem beyond hopeless. He triumphs over heinous tragedy and shameful death so far as to use it for His own eternal glory.
And Jesus is still making all things possible for those of us who belong to Him. He continues to be the same just as God is still the same Lord over all.
Therefore, shouldn't we Americans trust Him to establish His kingdom here in our own land, right now? If He is not the same Fullness of God that He has always been, then we have believed in vain, and we might as well eat, drink and be merry with the remainder of our futile existence.
Can the kingdom of God exist here in the United States or in any other society affected by westernization? Can men and women in westernized societies have anything to do with Christ?