Happy New Year! I haven’t written anything in a while. I’m slowly deconstructing and reconstructing the site which is the main reason. But it’s not the only reason.
It’s a new year and time for new perspectives. I may have told you that I was an atheist from ages 18 through 39. So I fully understand why people dislike “religion” and also dislike anything that does not walk lock step with the idea of evolution. That used to be my perspective as well.
I talk a great deal about Jesus Christ. I spent over half my life believing that Jesus and “religion” were one and the same. My perspective was faulty.
A TALE OF TWO TABLES
I’ll bet that a lot of you hate “religion”. So do I. “Religion” is a series of rituals and liturgies. Webster defines “liturgy” as “prescribed ritual for public worship”.
Do you know who else hates “religion”? Jesus does.
You may find that odd. You may not even believe me.
So I’m going to relate two stories found in scripture. Interestingly they are written back to back and represent the entirety of John chapter 2. The scriptures frequently present one point and immediately follow it with the diametrical opposite point to drive home an illustration. These two stories illustrate the freedom that Jesus offers us.
I call the story “A Tale of Two Tables”. I’ll paraphrase it for you. Then I hope you will go check it out. Don’t believe me merely because I tell you something. Don’t believe anyone merely because they tell you something. Always verify it.
So the story goes something like this:
A large group of people gathered at a number of tables to have a big party. Theirs was a night of revelry. They ate and drank and drank and ate. They were joyous and having a great old time. But they drank so much that the wine gave out. These tables were full of lots and lots of tipsy sots!
Table number two was entirely different. These tables were manned by those who would help people perform their required religious ritual. They were there to provide the necessary materials for “religion” to reign. And they went about their business with stone cold sobriety.
Jesus chose to bless one group. To the other group He administered a good old-fashioned ass whoopin’. (Okay, I just know that some of you are more concerned about my using the term “ass” than you are about spreading the word of the freedom, love and grace of Jesus Christ. May I suggest that you take your seat at table two.) Back to the story. Jesus has to favor religious piety over raucous celebration….. right? The end of these stories may surprise you.
In story number one, when the wine ran out Jesus had the headwaiter fill six stone pots to the brim with water. Each pot contained twenty to thirty gallons. Then the headwaiter tasted the beverage and discovered that it was wine. And it was not just any wine. It was top shelf. That’s 120 to 180 gallons of wine that Jesus provided for these folks. The headwaiter was astounded at the quality. He remarked that usually the best wine is served first and when the guests have drunk freely and they lose their sense of discrimination, then the bottom shelf stuff comes out. But this time the best wine was saved for last. (Much to the chagrin of many or the “second table” crowd, the wine of the bible was definitely alcoholic.) Jesus blessed this crowd with $80 a bottle wine.
The religious crew at the second set of tables was not so lucky. Jesus fashioned a scourge and drove them out of the temple along with their sheep and oxen. Then He overturned their tables and poured out their “blood” money. Such is Jesus’ anger with those who would tie you up in knots with “religiosity”.
You may think you know Jesus because you’re looking at all the “religious” people you know. You may think Jesus is concerned about rules and regulations and observation of rituals.
He isn’t. The people at table two are.
You may think Jesus is a party pooper who demands that you clean up your act before you get to know Him and certainly before He would ever consider sitting down at a table with you.
Jesus was celebrating right along with everybody else at table one.
You may think that you know Him. Many of you don’t. He invites you to get to know Him. Actually He cries out for you to get to know Him. And when you do He promises to never abandon you.
He would love to have a relationship with you, and perhaps a glass of wine.
He has a way of turning the tables.