The Forest and the Tree

You know, we expect the openly godless, the obviously wicked to have no interest in our Savior.  We are not surprised when they treat Him with disdain, repugnance, vehemence.  And yet, in Luke 23:10, are those who, with devotion and desperation, were supposedly on the watch for the Messiah–but could not see Him, nor would they recognize His work at Calvary. They were distracted by their own expectations and perceptions.  They “stood by, vehemently accusing him.”

Religiously lost people.  The world is full of them.  My parents were among them (they both trusted Christ in their twilight years), as moral, faithful, generous, sacrificial Lutheran church-goers.  Mormons, thinking they will attain godhood.  Jehovah’s Witnesses, striving to reach heaven though their own faithfulness.  Good Catholics, baptizing their babies, anointing their dead, and praying their rosaries inbetween.

We watched a PBS special last night, depicting Buddhists, generations ago, who painstakingly and perilously climbed steep cliffs to reach the privacy of an appointed cave that was consecrated for the purpose of worship.  Detailed and embellished frescoes of their gods covered the walls.  They isolated themselves, as close to “heaven” as they could reach, in order to devote themselves to worship.  They had wheels to spin that would, in essence, “pray” for them as the words upon them rotated on their respective spools.  The Bible calls all of this “works.”  All of it is filthy rags…a very explicit and distasteful term in the original.  Corrupt and worthless.

Look around you today for the religious people this Christmas season, and lead them out of the forest to the foot of the tree of Calvary.

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