Jesus never made anyone mean.
I heard someone say this a number of years ago. The words have stuck with me.
Far too many of us miss the connection between grace and the way we treat people. Consequently religion becomes defined by the following:
1. Orthodoxy (We’ve got our doctrine correct.)
2. Church work ("Where would this church be without you? You do so much!")
3. Church leadership roles (Church becomes all about decision making, planning, meetings, meetings, meetings…)
4. Doing church really well ("There are some good churches in our area but we are considered the premier church. There is no church like our church.")
It is so easy to place our confidence in one of these four while we ignore what Jesus said was front and center: loving God and loving people.
As a result a person can seem to be very religious and yet act like a real jerk to his wife.
A woman can seem very religious while she socially excludes those at church who don’t seem to "fit" (translated: these people don’t make the money that the rest of us in our group do).
A guy can call a meeting at work, unload a truckload of profanities at a few of his employees, and then go to a committee meeting at church that night.
A man or woman can speak of wanting to be spiritual and then behave rudely to his/her spouse.
What is missing? A life that is being transformed and changed by the Gospel. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus would tell us that when it comes to being a spiritual person, we are not looking in the right places. Maybe for some of us, he would have us reflect on our day — how it began at home, what happened at work, my behavior with customer service at Home Depot. Maybe a good place to begin is with the ordinary stuff of life.