Religion is dangerous business. It’s easy to see in the life of the scribes and pharisees – people put’n on, but difficult to see in ourselves. Even James & John got caught up in their church experience and left Jesus behind. Oh, I don’t mean literally, I just mean in spirit.
Jesus and the disciples were on their way to Jerusalem, and unlike many Jews, they chose to travel through Samaria. When the local Golden Corral wouldn’t serve them they asked Jesus if a little Old Testament judgement wasn’t in order. They wanted more to be on fire than just the char-broilers in meat department. (See Luke 9) The response of the Master challenged their misconceptions about God. Perhaps our’s need challenged too.
The hardest people to deal with can be the ones that are so absolutely “right” about some thing, that they can’t see their bad attitude. Human beings are good at this, so why should we think professing Christians wouldn’t tend this way as well. We find a vantage point from which we look good by seeing how somebody else looks bad. It’s the spiritual equivalent of the law of natural selection. The guy or gal at the the top of the pile appears to have overcome their humanity a little better than the rest of us.
But be careful religious people when you are feeling particularly righteous. Jesus values real godliness, not the disjointed, self ascribed version, where we can cast dispersions on other people, or use their mistakes as distractions from our own spiritual neediness. The Bible is full of stories and proverbs that warn us to recognize our humanity and offer the benefit-of-the-doubt to our fellow struggling human family members.
So the next time you feel like you have right to call fire down on someone, do a spirit check, and ask yourself if the fire needs burn away the dross inside of you and make you more like Jesus and less like run-of-the-mill religious people. John the Revelator described Jesus as having eyes like flames of fire (Rev. 1:14), He see what’s hidden from other eyes. Keep your experience genuine by sincere and humble living that helps other people overcome rather than be run over by your righteousness.
Go ahead – take a spirit check. Make sure a righteous sentiment isn’t tied to an unloving attitude. Offer to everyone, what in time you’ll need yourself – grace.