God is Bigger than Our Ugliest Moments

February 15, 2018

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. Luke 23:23-25

I am no fan of politics. As far as I can see, it represents much of human behavior at its very worst. At least in our culture, politics seem to have devolved into the extremists and their screaming voices holding the larger percentage of us in the middle hostage. The more we try to shut those voices out, the louder they become, and the wider the chasm dividing our country becomes. And, in the meantime, every important issue politics touches gets hijacked into the feeding frenzy of labels and manipulation. In short, politics poisons everything it touches.

This week, I am reading the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. It is so filled with ugliness and power struggles and politics and manipulation, it is an amazingly frustrating story to me. A few religious leaders who feel threatened by Jesus incite a virtual riot and use their influence to create an angry mob to ensure Jesus’ crucifixion…it is a portrait of how truly ugly humanity can be when politics take over.

It saddens me that this kind of ugliness has invaded the church today in the same way it did 2,000 years ago. In fact, some of the nastiest, ugliest pictures I have ever seen of an angry mob have been church business meetings or staff retreats or deacons meetings or committee meetings. Crucifixions, as it turns out, have become a dangerously common phenomenon in the contemporary church culture.

Sad, isn’t it?

But if you have been in a leadership role in the church for very long, this reality comes as no huge surprise to you. Because, when we feel that our very church is at stake, we become capable of unbelievably bad behavior. There just are not that many things more important to us. Our children are important to us, which explains the bad behavior at PTA meetings and little league baseball games. Our homes are important to us, which explains the bad behavior at homeowner’s association meetings. Our money is important to us, which explains the bad behavior in the Civil courtrooms. Our churches are important to us. And from my experience, when it comes to bad behavior, little league parents and litigants have nothing on us as church members!

As I write this post, I just hung up from a telephone conversation with a frustrated pastor. It is a conversation I must have had a thousand times. He was just sick and tired of the backbiting and manipulation tactics and ugly behavior on the part of some in his church. He just wants to see the personal agendas dropped and everybody join together to begin seeking God’s agenda. He is tired and frustrated and a little angry himself. And maybe you are too, but with your own church. Maybe you are tired of the politics, manipulation, and bad behavior, and you are just wanting to see it all stop.

With those same feelings, I read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and how the religious leaders of the time incited the crowd to crucify our Lord, and my first reaction is to burn with anger. I hate politics, I really do. I hate what politics do to otherwise good people. And make no mistake about it, what happened to Jesus was a direct result of politics.

And then I remember…

What happened to Jesus was God’s plan from the very beginning.

It was what was supposed to happen.

If you are frustrated with the bad behavior in your own church, let the crucifixion story encourage you. Not only did God permit the angry mob, He used it. He ordained it and brought about His purpose through it. He could do that because He is truly God and is bigger than all the bad behavior humanity can muster. In the end, He will win. He will have His way.

“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

…and neither will the ugly crowd in your church.

God is God. One way or another, He will win.

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