There is a cancer happening in churches across the country today and it has to do with morality– the same disease that controlled the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus’ time.
It’s the idea that you have to “do” this or do that to be accepted by God. It’s the idea that you must go to church, but don’t you dare say anything that could ever show that you’re not a “good” Christian or that you aren’t following all the rules. And problems? Oh no, don’t bring those. Those don’t exist.
Well it’s a crazy thing, isn’t it? And it’s far from the true gospel. It causes people to never want to step foot in the church again. I’ve seen it happen.
The truth is that Jesus came to heal us of our problems. He didn’t ask us to clean up before hand. He never asked the church to put on their pretty faces and hide their issues with lust, greed, adultery, murder, or jealousy from each other. He said to confess them so that they could be healed and find life again (James 5:16).
He asks us to bring our sin to him.
The Pharisees and teachers of the law were so blinded by their good works that they couldn’t see their hypocrisy. Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matt. 23:13).
The Pharisees had it so wrong that people were kept from entering the kingdom of God. A lot of us have it wrong today, including myself at times. Morality is not our motive.
The gospel is. The cross is our motive. It’s about broken people receiving the free, unmerited gift of salvation- not because of anything good we have done.
As I grow in my faith, I’m reminded to be careful of those who preach a message of morality alone- that there is something I can do to earn favor with God. (This isn’t to say that when I grow closer to Him, I won’t want to “do” those things.) But my motive isn’t for morality’s sake alone, but to embrace Christ for all that he is and to let him do the changing he needs to do in my areas of brokenness.
Have you ever felt like you could bring your Bible to church, but not your problems? Do you think the typical church today is missing the true gospel?
photo by: Janice Dunn