Not too long ago, a Catholic co-worker of mine bursted in my office (without knocking, by the way), almost to the point of tears. Apparently, she was "disturbed" by some artwork in our University gallery which -- depending on how you look at -- could have been offensive to Christians. The artwork had a cross that was submerged in a bowl of urine. According to the atrist, this piece was created to capture the humanity of Jesus while He was dying; suggesting that He may have either urinated or deficated while on the cross. Despite a pretty reasonable explanation from the artist, this co-worker of mine was beside herself. She declared how fed up she was with Christians being "persecuted" and that she "wasn't going to take it anymore". Despite my best effort to calm her down, in Christian love, she fell deaf to everything I was trying to say. She just couldn't seem to realize that she was doing the type of fighting that Jesus doesn't need. Let me explain...
First off, have you ever noticed how hard it is to talk to really religious people like this? You know...the ones who are so hung-up on their system of beliefs. Most often, it's difficult (seemingly impossible) to talk to people whose idea of right and wrong is limited to their own beliefs.
What I've started to notice with many Christians is that we've become too caught up in practices, rituals and customs; without placing any emphasis on doctrine and, most importantly, the love of Christ. We find comfort in hangin' out in our 'invisi-square', where everything is safe, secure, unquestioned, and familar. For the record: this cultural phenomenon is not unique to the church. This happens just about everywhere. However, as Christians with a higher calling, we need make sure that our beliefs, norms, and agendas don't get in God's way.
The Bible illustrates that even Paul adjusted his thought process once he realized that he was inteferring with God. At one point in his life, he really believed that he was called to silence the people who were following this 'Jesus' guy. He was merely defending God from (what he thought) were some radicalize messages from this dude claiming to be the Messiah. The truth is: Paul wasn't really that bad of a guy. He simplied governed himself by what he thought was right. But once Paul had a Close Encounter of the Third Kind with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was never the same.
As followers of Christ, we need to share in a similar experience. We must be careful in examining the beliefs and values that we hold so sacred. There is a strong possibility that we could be wrong about them. And we all know how much people hate to be wrong, don't we?
The Gospel reminds us about how much difficulty Jesus had talking to the religioius folks of His day. They were so focused on rules, customs, norms, and rituals that they often lost sight of the 'Big Picture'. They made it a habit of challenging Jesus on everything. Even when they thought that they were going to bat for God, the reality was they were only defending their beliefs about God and His law.
But here's a shocker: God doesn’t need us to come to His defense. Nor does Jesus.
In fact, if you remember when Jesus was getting arrested, Peter tried to save Jesus by cutting off the soldier's ear...only to have Jesus tell him to go sit down somewhere. Peter was only getting in Jesus' way.
Doesn't that seem to be the story of the church today? I mean, you've got people who grab their swords every Sunday in an effort to defend Jesus. They try to cut down and kill anybody or anything that they feel poses a threat to Him. But what they usually don't realize is that they're not defending Jesus. They're defending their beliefs of Jesus. I can just see Him telling us to "Put away our swords. Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword."
In a nutshell, I think that Jesus is telling us to get out of His way.