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Religious Drift

Religious Drift
Words of Faith 12-30-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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John 12
[17] Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. [18] Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. [19] So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"

The miraculous raising of Lazarus created a great deal of momentum for Jesus as He entered the city of Jerusalem. People had followed Jesus from Bethany and were spreading the word that Jesus had done this wonderful thing. Many came to see who this was but not all were thrilled.
The reaction of the Pharisees is very revealing. We see two specific things.
1) "See, this is getting us nowhere.” Jesus was not serving their agenda. The Pharisees were the religious party that strictly sought to follow the law. They were the ‘Torah fundamentalists’ of the day who opposed corruption in the Temple. They were theologically very similar to Jesus except that in pressing the fine details of the Law they had lost the spirit of what God wanted to do among people.
Suddenly this ‘Jesus thing’ was getting out of hand. Jesus was not getting them where they wanted or expected to be. They obviously had a particular agenda and Jesus was not promoting that agenda. The religion of the Pharisees had become one of “control”. When they could not control Jesus, their flesh rebelled against this move of God.
2) “Look how the whole world has gone after him!" Jealousy. The Pharisees were jealous of all the attention that Jesus was getting. This was their city. Jesus was a bumpkin from Galilee, never schooled with the right teachers of the Law. They could see that the crowds were following Him with great enthusiasm. The religion of the Pharisees had grown jealous of others, even God.
What is the point? When our faith becomes driven by our need to achieve an end or control other people, we are far from Kingdom. When our faith becomes jealous of others, and particularly of the Lord Himself, we are far away from God. In fact, we are at war with His Kingdom.
What drives your “religious quest” in life? Is it the need to be “right”? Or the need to control other people? Do you find yourself frustrated with people around you who do not meet your standards or promote the direction you feel is right?
Do you find yourself jealous of others who gain attention even though they are new to the faith or have not put in the kind of work you have? These are all religious traps of our flesh, which the Pharisees fell into.
What is the answer? Let God be God. He is exceedingly well equipped for the job. You are not. He can handle all those who don’t meet His standard and even those who don’t meet yours.
Decide today not to be religious but instead to follow Jesus. The Gospel is about relationship, not religion. Stop trying to “live right” and just live listening to Him. That will be right. Learn to rejoice in whatever attention others receive knowing that our greatest goal is not to lift ourselves up but to lift Jesus up.

Lord, forgive me if I have drifted into religion and neglected our relationship. I surrender all my agendas, peeves, worries and standards to You. Give me the fruit of Your Spirit as I walk with You. In Jesus’ name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.