Bill O’Riley says, “I’m looking out for you.” Have you heard someone say, “I am just looking out for the best interest of the church? Just what does that mean?
Read Acts 7: 54-59 “When they (Sanhedrin) heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth….But he (Stephen)being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up into heaven, and saw the glory of God…and they cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at the young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.”
Acts 8:1-4 “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church, which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”
Philippians 3:6 He spoke of himself, “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church…”
Acts9: 1-2 And Saul, yet breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest…that if he found any…whether men or women…he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
I usually, jump back a few feet when someone says, “I am looking out for the best interest of the church,” because, the first thing that comes to my mind is Paul. Was it not ironic that Paul, one of the most religious men of the day, was the very one that was set on destroying the “true” church. Not only was he against Christianity, he sought will all diligence to kill all Christians, and anything to do with “kingdom growth.” Does looking out for church mean, going to church every Sunday, creating programs and seeing they thrive, learning scripture so we can condemn our brothers and sisters, wear our crosses and other religious symbols and adorning our cars with fish and religious decals to identify our religious beliefs, etc, etc, … Upon occasion the religious take it upon themselves to “keep the church pure,” by closing the doors to those who do not look or worship as they do. Some take it upon themselves to thrash and bash the minister of God who seeks to follow Him, to preach the Truth, who are bold enough to stand up in the face of opposition. All these things are done in the name of religion. Religion is about “looking like” but Christianity is seeking to be obedient to God regardless of religious traditions.
1. Do you find it strange that a believer in God could set out to destroy all that Jesus died for?
2. What similarities do you see about Paul’s religion and that of the religious people of today?
3. What are some things that are not Christ like but are done in the name of religion?
4. Give some examples where we hold traditions as having equal authority as Scripture?
5. How do we allow our relationship with God to be reduced to a legalistic list of rules and rituals?
Dear Father, Forgive me of the times that I have been indifferent to individuals or mistreated them in the name of being religious. Create in me a zeal to be about “kingdom” growth, instead of conforming to religious traditions. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.