Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Barrier Of A Religious Heart

We will come across a lot of barriers in our life but the greatest barrier we will encounter is that of a religious heart. This barrier is even greater than the barrier of unbelief because it is a barrier made as hard as granite. Jesus came to tear down such barriers but as fast as they come down we start rebuilding them. Jesus has something to say to us today.

In examining Jesus' encounter with the woman at the well we have seen Jesus bring down the social, exclusive, and sin barriers. Now he is faced with the barrier of the religious heart:

The woman said, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. My ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say Jerusalem is the only place to worship.” (John 4:19-20)

Obviously our God is very patient with us when faced with such a mindset. Fixed in our traditions, our denominational teaching, our opinions, we have built the trappings of religion, even to this day. But God will have none of that. His desire is for us to learn to live by his Spirit, letting go of everything in which we find security and seeking his face. There is no need for special buildings we call churches, or special liturgies, specific prayers, man made ceremonies, traditions and anything that has not been provoked by the Spirit. We really should pay attention to the response of our King and Saviour to this woman presenting her traditions:

Jesus said to her:
Believe me, the time is coming when you won’t worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans don’t really know the one you worship. But we Jews do know the God we worship, and by using us, God will save the world. (vv. 21-22)

Jesus first addresses the problem that the Samaritans have no real relationship with God. They don't know the Father, they only know of him. This describes many people today who have a form of godliness but no power. They attend church but have no relationship. They follow the traditions but are not possessed by the Spirit. How can they see or understand the Kingdom without the Spirit? How can they leave according to its principles? Instead they live a mix of worldly wisdom and Christian traditions. Jesus continued:

But a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth. (vv. 23-24)

The truth of the gospels, by the power of the Spirit, tears down the barriers of the religious heart. It is not with pandering that we can help the religious heart see the Light again but it is the truth directed by the Spirit that pierces the darkness.

Yet, so many churches are leaving the Spirit to one side. So many churches do not teach of the need of the baptism of the Spirit. So many do not experience the power of God. So many have no understanding of the gifts of the Spirit. So many are lost in a religious heart; saying the words, singing the songs, going through the motions, knowing of the Father without knowing the Father. It's crazy. No wonder we are so quick to follow the decisions of the world, to twist the Word, to desire to attract the masses with entertainment instead of the truth.

"God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth." These are the words of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, our Lord, our King. And what is our response?

I don't know about you but my desire is to be less so Jesus can be more. I want to lose control to the Spirit. I want to give up my opinion, to be possessed by God's truth. I want to be led by the Spirit to live for the glory of our Father according to the truth. Not what I want but what he wants. Not by my wisdom but by God's. Not according to my will but by my Father's will. A complete letting go of this world and its ways to walk by the Spirit in the Kingdom of God, which is here in our hearts now. There is a day that the Kingdom will be physically manifested in this world but until that time I am still governed by it because it possesses my heart. Strike down any religious ways that remain in me.

Have your way Jesus. I worship you.

You are my God.

No comments: