‘They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.’ ‘They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.’ John 16:2-3 (NIV)
We Christians like to think that our church is the safer place. Do we really think that evil would not creep in if it could find a way? History has proven time and time again that great crimes against love and compassion are committed by the very folk who call themselves servants of the Lord. Jesus Himself was persecuted and slain. The apostles in turn had to follow the same path of rejection and in the end, death. Our Saviour talks openly about the problem. He wants to let us know beforehand. To truly follow Him means that we set ourselves at odds with anyone who has never really met God. It is sad to say but even in our churches today we will find those who have rose to positions of importance but do not have the Love of God living inside their hearts. Is this effect of knowing or not knowing Jesus, a theme we often choose to overlook? Is it a teaching of Jesus that we prefer to leave in the past or use to incriminate anyone but us?
If we are prepared to accept the Word of Jesus as the truth, then there is hope for us. We will see that those words are given to us so that in them we can find exactly what we need. We can use His teachings to help us. We can overcome any hurdles that may try to stand in our Way. His words are a warning but they are also an encouragement. It may be that there are some people in our churches who overlook the necessity of coming fully into the Presence of the Lord to know Him and love Him. But in making us aware of this, Jesus offers us a remedy. The church need not be run by worldly-minded people. Those people too can come to know God. Nobody is lost until the Lord says they are lost. Christ died for the self-righteous as well as for the sincere. So when we find uncharitable sentiment within the body of believers, or ourselves, should we recognize it as the evil that would infest the select of God? Should we work along with the Spirit to bring all hearts into an awareness of and a relationship with Christ?
Denial places us all in danger. Placing the blame on others leaves us little room to see our failures and therefore seek no eventual cure. To think that the warnings of Jesus are only meant for unbelievers or other churches leaves us at risk. So when Jesus speaks of a time when people will be oppressed in the name of God, should we be quick to examine our situation. When we see ourselves getting upset about conduct that does not fit with our brand of religion, should we check even ourselves to make sure we proceed in kindness. If we or our church begins to look down on someone else, should we do our best to bring hearts into the Presence of God? Should we make all haste to bring the healing effects of knowing Jesus personally even if it means to ourselves or to other Christians?
Our tendency is to avoid scrutiny. We would love to assume that we and our church are headed down the right path. But thank You for showing us the Way. Thank You for bringing us back to You! Please help us all to realize that only the strongest relationship with You will ever keep evil from entering. Only Your love flowing fully in us through the closest of walks with You will enable us to care for Your lost children as we should. Help us! Mark us with Your character and Your love. Let Your words heal us and not incriminate us when You speak of knowing or not knowing the Lord!