Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2
JESUS DIDN’T ONLY PREACH TO SINNERS. HE HAD FELLOWSHIP WITH THEM.
- Do you enjoy life? Do other people find you interesting?
Is your life holy in such a way that unholy people feel that you love them and they want to be with you? THIS IS THE KIND OF CHRISTIAN LIFE GOD WANTS TO SEE ON EARTH, BELIEVERS LIKE JESUS.
Jesus attracted prostitutes and corrupt tax collectors and He loved them. He healed hopeless cases with miracles in unpredictable ways that frequently violated religious rules. He healed a blind man by spitting in dirt and making a muddy paste to anoint the man’s eyes. The Bible believing people of His time had made a rule against this exact practice and Jesus broke the rule on purpose.
Most Bible teachers remind you that the religious persecutors of Jesus were Jews. In this way, they avoid the issue that religious legalism is just as strong and negative amongst many Bible believing Christians today as it was with the Jews 2000 years ago.
Jesus was fully human, a man, not an angel. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and we can be too. The Holy Spirit is a PERSON, just like Jesus. God is never boring or predictable but frequently does dramatic and wonderful things in quite unexpected ways. If we are living in the Holy Spirit, we will frequently have wonderful and exciting experiences which will make life interesting for ourselves and others around us, as it was with Jesus on earth.
One evening I was driving near the city when I saw a young woman on a bus stop. She was not dressed modestly. I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to stop and give her a lift. I asked God, “Is that really you?” I really felt it was God, so I turned back and picked her up. It turned out this was a prostitute but not really a woman. I had a very down to earth conversation about male prostitution, heroin addiction, the love of Jesus and his childhood as a Jehovah’s Witness. I later visited his daytime workplace in a hairdressing salon and gave him a Bible. He was so deeply moved that he wanted to kiss me, which I found very embarrassing.
When you are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, amazing things happen.
Jesus was constantly criticised by the committed Bible believing people. They had reduced the Bible to a set of doctrines and rules. Many Bible believing Christians are like that today. If you enjoy a supernatural life with the unpredictable Holy Spirit, strange things will happen and serious Christians will reject you. Don’t take them too seriously. They take themselves too seriously already.
Spirits of control are the same dark spirits, whether in churches, political parties, governments, schools, or business organisations. Jesus did not teach chaos and selfish individualism but He taught FREEDOM and brotherhood and teamwork, leadership without ownership, guidance without authoritarianism, obedience without losing your identity. Your true identity comes from the God who created you to be UNIQUE.
THE ESSENCE OF CONTROLLING RELIGION IS NOT CHURCH BUILDINGS BUT RATHER IT IS WHEN THE MAN WITH THE MICROPHONE ROBS YOU OF WHO YOU ARE. When God gives YOU a vision for HIS purpose for you, that can NEVER be cancelled out or overridden by the vision of the leader of the church you join. LAST TIME I READ MY BIBLE it said THE LORD is my Shepherd. Jesus ranks higher than any human preacher.
But often preachers are also victims of religious control.
A pastor of a big active church desperately desired to go out and reach unchurched people, to be an evangelist. But his church kept him so busy preaching, teaching, counselling and organising Christians, that he had no time. He pleaded with his people to release him but they refused. They said they needed him to look after them. Eventually he resigned as pastor and left the church altogether. He became a successful evangelist.
He obeyed God. What about you?