What Jesus Says to Religious People
Topic: Biblical Scripture: Luke 15:1–15:32
The following is but a brief summary of the message.
In the gospels Jesus is engaging with people who are far from God in order to show them grace and bring them to a change in their lives. He is forgiving sinners, calling them to repentance and redirecting their lives. One of the greatest enemies of a life of repentance is that of religion. Today, we look at what Jesus says to a group of religious people who really have no place in their life for the work of God.
Human existence is always oscillating between two extremes in trying to achieve happiness or peace of mind. Both philosophers and beauty pageant contestants prove to us that most people are trying to "be happy" in their lives. The french philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal said it this way:
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves."
— Blaise Pascal
There is an ancient battle that wars within the human race that beckons us to various paths which promise to bring the somewhat elusive treasure of happiness…
- Aristotle argued for a life according to virtue against the people he called “the lovers of sights and sounds”
- The Stoics and the Epicureans argued amongst themselves as to whether a disciplined life of the will or a life seeking pleasure was the path to be taken…
- Does the "Good" or the "Pleasurable" drive us towards the desired goal of happiness…
In the work of the Danish Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard this comes quickly to the forefront as well. In his book “Either/Or” he highlights the human choice of path between two characters, one choosing the Aesthetic Life and the other the Ethical
Aesthetic vs. Ethical
- A character name "A" seeks the poetic, the ironic and pleasure seeking life. His great enemy is boredom and must seek to stave this off.
- In contrast is Judge Vilhelm who sees conforming your life to ethical good, making choices to live accordingly, doing what is right is the path which should be taken.
In every university town on a Thursday night these two extremes are being pursued. There are the guys and girls deep down at Liquor Town vs. the one who is buried deep in the Library. Human beings oscillate between the paths of Freedom/Law, Freaky/Moral, Crazy/Calm, and the Irreligious and the RELIGIOUS.
Jesus tells a parable that goes right to the heart of these two paths and shows us a different, unique way from them both.
What do we see here? What do we see and hear from Jesus?
Religious People Do Note Love Sinners like Jesus Does
- We like to condemn others
- We like to blog about them, gossip about them on Facebook
- We like to think we are the good guys, everyone else are the bad guys
- We are either mad at God – or frustrated because we cannot control HIM
People Far from God, Matter to God
- Jesus – maybe I want to work with people that are far from me…maybe I want to work with you? Maybe we all need to repent and change.
- Maybe you think you are on Jesus team and you are really on a Religious team that likes to think well of yourself because of your lifestyle, the things you do or don’t do or simply because you are "NOT THEM"
There is No Life Enjoying Pleasure – Without the Father
Pleasure is good and a gift from God – but it is enjoyed with him, not apart from him…pleasure out of relationship with the Father can become an oppressive thing. Pleasure in proper context can be enjoyed fully.
The Father is Welcoming All in Repentance
- Repent - Younger Brothers – The Aesthete, The Freak – Repent, life isn’t there, it is with Jesus – he throws a better party.
- Repent - Older Brothers – The judge, the ethical man – repent of your religious attitude that you are with the Father, but you really don’t like the way he rolls. YOU would like to replace GOD. You have made so many, non Biblical, non God given rules out of your own PRIDE (I am a good Christian) and FEAR (I need to control things can do things better) that you cannot laugh, enjoy, be present and welcome sinners home. Through your own religious rule making and keeping – you think God owes you, you are thinking you are your own Savior. Sinners don’t want to come to your house, but they want to come to Jesus’ – Repent.
Why? There is a Third Way, a Gospel Way – between the oscillations of the brothers there is a different way. Pastor Tim Keller in his book the Prodigal God – says it this way:
The gospel of Jesus is not religion or irreligion, morality or immorality, moralism or relativism, conservatism or liberalism. Nor is it something halfway along a spectrum between two poles—it is something else altogether. The gospel is distinct from the other two approaches: In its view, everyone is wronged, everyone is loved, and everyone is called to recognize this and change.
Timothy Keller – The Prodigal God, p 45.
Where there is pleasure with God and a desire to live and worship with him – everything he has is ours. The Fathers Way – It has Parties and LIFE, it is involved with broken, sinful people who despise him and leave him like the younger brother. It is also a life in which he welcomes them home and forgives them. Religious guy – he wants you to – everything he has, is yours, but you must repent of your own self-congratulatory, holy than thouest attitude.
Our father is good and he creates a new community called the church out of the irreligious and the religious by calling both to repent of our living independent from God trying to find life and happiness apart from him.