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Have we committed idolatry?

Have we committed idolatry?

That is, Jesus never intended on starting a new religion.  He came to inagurate the highly anticipated 'Reign (or Kingdom) of God'.  He came to show us a Way of living that could be incorporated into all religious traditions or non-religious ones.

Look at this passage from the Gospel of John 4:

“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet.  So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”

Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.  But the time is coming — indeed it’s here now — when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.  For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming — the one who is called Christ.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”

We are familiar with this story, so I'm just going to point out a couple of things (but not the (so-called) rudeness of Jesus' statement in verse 22!).  First, Jesus said that it will no longer matter where one worships God.  The point is that you worship.  It can be on a mountain or in a temple or at your home.  It no longer will matter.

Next is when this it to be.  Jesus told her, 'The time is coming - indeed, it is here now...'  This is not something coming in the far distant future.  It was started when Jesus walked the earth!  The time is now.

This is reminiscent of other statements of Jesus.  In Luke 4, we read:

When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.  The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him.  He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
      for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
   He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
      that the blind will see,
   that the oppressed will be set free,
      and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down.  All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently.  Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

That is, the long awaited Reign of God was finally upon them and it was finding it's genesis in Jesus.  Now we all want oppression to cease some day.  We all want justice to be served some day.  We all want world peace some day.  We all want equality of all peoples some day.  But the astonishing thing is that Jesus stated that the wait is over!  Now is the time for all of this!  Not some day, but right now.  Are we working to implement those things?  Are we living each moment of every day in the complete conviction that this is true?

But, we in all of our great wisdom (that was sarcasm, if you couldn't tell), found out that it was too difficult to live the Way.  It was far easier to start a new religion with our own set of rules and procedures and policies and hierarchy.  Oh, we still believe that Jesus came to establish those things, but we have put them off until the very end.  'Those things will happen eventually, at the end, when God starts all over.'  But that is not what Jesus said.  That is not what the whole mission of the infant church was.  When we read some of the New Testament, we are reading about the expansion of that vision - of what it looks like in day to day life.  Those great women and men of old lived that every day.  They worked to implement the Way of living in all of life.  It wasn't until later that we determined that it would be far easier to just create our own place in the world.  But then, we 'cop[ied] the behavior and customs of this world' (Romans 12.2).  We started thinking that our rules and regulations - our religion - was better than all others.  We have become just like the people of Jesus' day.  We have stopped worshipping God in spirit and truth and have turned it into the rules and regulations of men.  We have become idolators.  To paraphrase the Jesus Prayer offered by our Orthodox family:

Lord Jesus Christ, Child of God, have mercy on us sinners.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Jack

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