Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Somebody had to be a Christian"

My travel or journey through Scripture has led me to I & II Timothy and now into Titus over the past few months. Titus began just today and has been coupled with me reading a favorite book of mine by the late Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality. I think this is my 8th time through the book. Its never a coincidence how God leads me in my studies. It’s never coincidental how His Word and whom or whatever I’m reading flows together. Titus is stuck on Crete, left by Paul to organize the Converts and dispel all the religious mess that the circumcised are causing. The religious messing up the Truth…..never happens now does it? Yaconelli recalled a story of Dr. John Mackie that I had heard my father tell before. Mackie, who was the president of the Church of Scotland in post World War II, is on a trip with two other ministers to check on and encourage missionaries in the Balkan Peninsula. His two traveling companions were, “from a rather severe and pietistic denomination” as Yaconelli retells. The three travel to a small Greek village to encourage an Orthodox priest. Overwhelmed with excitement the priest offered the men a rare and expensive wine. The two companions of Mackie refused, but he took the glass, smelled the wine like a trained connoisseur, drank it and praised its taste. He even asked for another glass when he finished the first. When the visit was over and the men were on their way, the two clergymen asked Dr. Mackie in disgust, “do you mean to tell us that the you are the President of the Church of Scotland and an officer of the World Council of Churches and you drink?” Dr. Mackie allowed his Scottish temper to rise to the top as he had enough religion from these two and said, “no I don’t, but somebody had to be a Christian!” Yaconelli writes, “Religious people love to hide behind religion. They love the rules of religion more than they love Jesus. With practice, Condemners let rules become more important than spiritual life.” Paul writes in Titus 1:15, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” I refuse to be a finger pointer. I dislike people that do. Its not our job or place to cast judgment on anyone, God’s got that handled and be it far from me that I should judge someone else, least they judge me. I do however want to be an equipper and bring to light the Truth in its simplicity, for myself mostly, but for others as well. The TRUTH in this scenario is that I must simply try to live out in my faith. Jesus most certainly did not play religion very well. Seems as though Dr. Mackie took a few swings himself at the standards of the Standard. I pray, I hope, I guess I ask that God never allows my religion to get in the way of my faith, of the Truth that lives in and through me. I wonder how my pious self has turned some away or completely led others to begin a religious processional to death. “Lord, help them see the Truth and not the religious mumbo jumbo I or anyone else has played out before them.”