Foundations determine the future of anything that is being built. Ask any contractor, if you get the foundation wrong it will always show up later. Jesus had an amazing way of asking questions or telling stories that went right to the foundational issues between people and God. One of them is in Luke 18.
Luk 18:10-14 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
There is something corrupt in mankind that wants to think that other people have “issues” while we ignore our own. This breeds a self justification in us while at the same time makes it easy to condemn others.
In our current cultural climate it is easy for one side of the Gay/Lesbian debate to look at the other side as having the “real issue.” One side looks at the other and sees them as not accepting or full of hate. The other sees people rejecting the creation order. If both sides are not careful they can facilitate a foundational problem that the Pharisee had in the above story that Jesus told.
This was exemplified in a story I recently read about a wise church leader’s response to a caller inquiring about his church. The caller was a lesbian looking for a church to attend. It began with the caller asking the leader if the church was “welcoming?” Here is how the dialogue went.
Leader: We welcome everyone to join us in worship.
Caller: Are you welcoming to gays and lesbians?
Leader: Yes, anyone and everyone is welcome.
Caller: What I mean is, are you welcoming and affirming? I’m a lesbian and I want to know if I will be expected to change in order to come to your church.
Leader: Anyone is welcome to come to our church. But when we meet Jesus—really experience Him—we all change. No one gets an opt-out of that. No one comes to Jesus or His church and gets to stay the same.
Caller: Would I have to change my sexuality?
Leader: Jesus is in the business of changing everything about us – our sexuality, our relationship to others, our money, our desires, and just about any aspect you can think of. So yes, coming to Jesus and His House means change – not just for you, but for all of us.
Caller: Well, then this church isn’t for me.
The Foundational Issue From Another Angle
I want us to lift this line of thought out of this context and look at if from another angle. Why, because it reveals a foundational problem in many people’s approach to Jesus and His house, no matter what side of any issues they stand. It was the problem with the Pharisee and it can be in any of us. .
The foundational problem has to do with how we think about coming to Jesus and following Him with His church. Jesus clearly lays out the way He intends for us to come and follow Him. It has to do with Him being in charge of us and Him setting the pace. Luke 9:23-24 23 He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. He mentions this same thing in every Gospel. Luk 14:26-27; Mat 10:38-39, Mat 16:22-25; Mar 8:34-38; Joh 12:25-26.
Could we get serious for a moment in light of Jesus’ call? Who do we think we are that we can come to Jesus and tell Him what we are willing, and not willing to change! Let’s put the shoe on another foot and look it from a similar fictional phone inquiry.
Caller: If I come to Jesus and your church, will I be expected to change my prejudice and bigotry toward those of different races? I am comfortable with people who think and believe like me.
Caller: If I come to Jesus or your church will I be expected to change my living arrangements with my girlfriend/boyfriend? I like cohabitation and see no problem with it especially in light of all the divorces nowadays.
Caller: If I come to Jesus or your church will I have to reach out to non Christians with the gospel? I am not that outgoing when it comes to evangelism.
Caller: If I come to Jesus or your church will I have to give much of my money? And what about that tithing thing I have heard about, I am not comfortable with it? I don’t want to be around a church that talks about money very much.
Caller: If I come to Jesus or your church do I have to serve? I have a very busy life. My schedule is very packed and I don’t have room for anything else.
We can go on and on but you see the foundational problem here. When it comes to following Jesus, or being part of His house it is never appropriate to do so “on my own terms.” Once we begin following Jesus our lives are to become open to Him, “working in us what is pleasing to Him.” This is what walking with Him and being part of His house is all about. This is what it means to “walk in the light” with Him.
Eph 5:8-10 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Heb 13:20-22 Now the God of peace…even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.
We either come to Him on “our” terms, or we realize the He is Lord and we come to follow Him as He works in us what is “pleasing in His sight.” This is actually the only way to live if we are going to receive the life that He came to bring.
Enter the text or HTML code here