1 Peter 2: 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you might proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Jesus didn’t come into the world to pat us on our heads, to make us feel good, or to reinforce our distorted concepts. He came to shake us up, to challenge us, to fit us for heaven. This can be painful at times as we let go of our idols and our prejudices. No one wants to feel humbled or proved wrong, yet that is exactly what a decision to follow Jesus can bring.
As Jesus carried out his ministry, he chafed more than a few people. The Temple elite had enjoyed a cozy relationship with the ruling officials. The moral fiber of the Jewish leaders had eroded to the point that they took advantage of their own people. In trying to appear pious by keeping the laws of their religion, they stepped right over the very people they were serving.
When Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, the self-righteous Temple leaders condemned Jesus for “working” on the Sabbath. It was more important to them to keep the letter of the law than to serve their fellow man.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus challenged the status quo. He didn’t seek popularity or approval. He simply met needs as he saw them. His compassion for mankind trumped propriety every time. As a result, he created a following of faithful and a cadre of enemies. The ruling religious elite were threatened by Jesus. They feared that the power they had over the people was slipping. Jesus had to be stopped.
Everyone wants to be accepted, to be part of a group. This can sometimes cause us to act in ways that are not pleasing to God. It could mean pursuit of an activity that requires a large amount of our money, leaving little to none for God’s purposes. We might exclude others who don’t fit our “type,” or object to our loosened standards, or we could fall prey to “keeping up with the Joneses.” The bottom line—if it separates us from God, we shouldn’t do it; it is sinful.
Often, the choices are incremental and escape our moral compass, but over time, these small steps become large barriers to our discipleship. This is why we need corporate worship and small group Bible study. We can encourage and keep each other accountable.
We are not called to follow the crowd. The ways of the world are not the lifestyle of the disciples of Jesus Christ. We are called to a different life—anointed and set apart to be God’s hands and feet until the day that Christ returns to claim us forever.