I can’t tell you how many times I have conversations with people who have decided to throw Jesus under the bus because of “religion.” People have been broken not just by bad choices and circumstances, but by church people. It is horrifying to me.
In John 5, Jesus comes upon crowds of sick people at the Pool of Bethseda outside Jerusalem. Jesus saw one man and immediately knew he had been sick for quite a while. What Jesus said next is the same thing he says to everyone who needs him. He says, “Would you like to get well?” (vs.6) That is freaking awesome! Jesus offered that man, wholeness. He offered him LIFE. He offers us LIFE. The man almost misses his own healing. He starts talking about how he can’t get well because he has no one to put him down in the pool (which was thought to have healing powers when it was bubbling) when it was bubbling up. The great thing about Jesus, is that he breaks down the barriers to coming to real life. Jesus tells this man, “No man, who needs the pool of Bethseda when you have living water standing right in front of you! (my translation!)” Jesus says, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (vs. 8) Jesus tore down the man-made barriers to this man’s wholeness.
The thing that happens next is what those of us who have been Christians a long time tend to do to new, excited people who need to “get well.” The man rolls up his mat and walks for the first time in maybe his whole life. As soon as he walks around the corner, the religious people are there telling him that the law doesn’t allow for him to carry his mat around on the Sabbath Day. We do the same thing to people don’t we? We hear about a miraculous experience they had that brought them to this place and we down play it or we say things like, “Well, once you’ve been a Christian awhile, you will tone it down.” Unfortunately, these excited people don’t always react like the man in our story. Most of the time, people hear these comments by long-time Christians and decided that maybe they were wrong about Jesus and walk away from Him because of the false impression we gave them about him. This man said one of the coolest things…”The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.” (vs. 11). Basically, he told them, “I don’t care what you say, I know what he told me to do and I am walking. I was sick and now I well.”
This weekend at Connexion, we are starting a new teaching series called, “I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.” It is based on a book by the same name by Vince Antonucci. This series is all about a real “get well” relationship with Jesus, not about religious rules and regulations. Being a follower of Christ is all about desiring to follow him wherever he leads us, not about desiring just to follow the rules. Join us to explore what it means to really follow Christ. The new series starts Sunday at 9:00am and 10:35am. Invite your friends to come with you for this series!