BELONGING TO GOD REQUIRES PROOF
Jesus had an argument with the Pharisees about belonging to God (Jn.8: 31-47). They believed that being physical descendants made them legitimate sons of God. For God to be their Father; Jesus informed them, they would have had to obey Him. Their evil intentions did not place them in the family of God, but in the camp of the devil. He told the leaders, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here.” The reason they did not hear Jesus was because they no longer belonged to God. To their displeasure, Jesus pointed out that their deeds did not even qualify them to be Abraham’s children.
The Pharisee were the “know how’s” on religion in their day. One would presume that they understood what Jesus was all about. Claiming that they were in league with God, one would assume that they would love Jesus and appreciate what He was saying and doing. It appears that the Pharisees knew all they wanted to know and there was no more room in their messianic thinking. They were set in their ways; and God, they were convinced, agreed with them. Also, they were absolutely sincere about their belief and practices. These Pharisees were no different from the religious people in our time. Most religious fanatics are set in their ways and believe that their actions and practices honor God (Jn.16: 2). And our actions do disclose to what kind of a god we belong to. Even those that have no god, have a lifestyle that is their god. Jesus made it simple. Those actions that are fatal emanate from the devil and those that are loving and compassionate come from God. That differentiation puts all of us on a very short leash and we can, on our own, determine to whom we belong.
Jesus’ differentiation applies to religious and non-religious people alike. Religion, itself, does not identify our paternity; our deeds do. In Jesus’ words, “You do the things your own father does.” If we, like the Pharisees, plot to hurt and kill, then we are doing the devil’s bidding. On the contrary, if we love, like the Good Samaritan and do what Jesus asks, then we do God’s will. Our religious association and identification is verified or disqualified as belonging to God by our deeds (Mt.7: 16). That is why we must be utterly careful how we treat each other because it identifies us to whom we belong. In the eyes of God, we are each other’s keeper (Gen.4: 9). When we break that rule, we fall under a curse and that is the devil’s domain.
It is not an easy choice or chore to do things that will always please God. It is a bit presumptuous to think that once I belong to God, I am no longer capable of doing bad things. I do have feelings and thoughts about others that are troubling. Like Paul, I endeavor to do what appears to be right and then I am swayed doing that ends up wrong (Ro.7: 21). The two brothers, James and John wanted fire fall from heaven on the Samaritans. Jesus reminded them that they were not acting in the right spirit (Lk.9: 54-55). Peter was hindering Jesus in His mission by Satan (Mt.16: 23). Satan gables up every word that may change us for the better (Mk.4: 15). Inadvertently, we all can become tools of the devil. Jesus wants us to remember that he is the father of lies (Jn.8: 44). It is our responsibility to pay attention to what we hear and see. We can easily test the spirit whether it is from God or the devil (I Jn.4: 1). Any spirit that rejects Jesus’ love and message is not of the true God. Jesus did not do a single thing that hurt anyone.
The greatest tragedy, in the world, was when the first followers of Jesus hijacked Jesus and turned Him into a religious system. They isolated Him from the world and they still do. Jesus had to land in Judea, but His objective was to bring the “Good News” of God’s love to the entire world (Jn.3: 16-18). He intended to draw all men unto Himself (Jn.12: 32). He commanded His disciples to go into all nations and make converts (Mt.28: 19). What Jesus brought from God was good for all people and still is. Western Christians have robbed Jesus of His appeal to the world by building fences around Him. What Paul said about his own people is equally true of many Christians, “God’s name is being blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Ro.2: 24). Jesus did not come to establish a religion, but to help us find our way back to God and how to love each other. It is when we reject such a Leader and His love, that we no longer belong to the God, Jesus called, “Father.” It is what we do that tells who we are.
Christians are not the only ones that have built fences around Jesus, the Christ. The Jews were the first to do so and so did the Romans. The Roman Catholic Church excelled in fencing and so did all other Christian groups. Muslims have fenced themselves in to keep Jesus out and so have the other religions. American politics has mastered the art of fencing in Jesus. Instead of the sword, it used the law to make it illegal to honor Jesus. Our secular politicians, like the ones in Jesus’ day, are afraid to follow the teachings’ of Jesus, because those that do not believe in Him will come and take over our country (Jn.11: 48). Jesus predicted that this would happen. “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (Jn.6: 43-44). We must not give all the credit to our legal experts for removing Jesus from our world. We, the followers of Jesus, have become citizens of heaven and are now too heavenly for this world (Jn.17: 14). Only, our deeds do not justify our claim, nor does our nation.