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Choosing Jesus Over Religion


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It was utter mayhem at the foot of the cross. You can be certain of that. Where there is a spectacle, there's sure to be a large crowd. Yet so many abandoned Jesus in his hour of need. Often it's Luke who tells us about the women who followed Jesus. This time John sees them standing beside him.


Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25


Passages like this one leave me squirming. I'm a church girl through and through. I prefer a few rules guiding my steps. There has never been a time in my life when church hasn't been a part of who I am. Plenty of times when I was busy "building my testimony" (we all need redeeming) the other days of the week, but Sunday morning you knew where to find me. I've discovered high church liturgy in the last few years and I am suddenly dying of thirst for things like icons, silence and crossing myself. I love it when a good praise and worship song sweeps me away emotionally. Bible study? Yes please. Truly, I'm wild about religion.


The Pharisees and Sadducees were all about organized religion too. They faithfully served in the local synagogue. I'm thankful for Scripture that tells us about the few of them who experienced changed hearts. Would my heart have been willing to receive the new way Jesus offered?


Most of the time I'm convinced I would have joined the crowd. I would have uttered those words, "Crucify him." Individuals who upset my church rhythm make me nervous, but I'm getting better at listening. I'm learning to look in their eyes and consider their hearts. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever; the foundational truths of church remain, but it's OK to consider some things might change.


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This year I'm going to give myself the benefit of the doubt. In those years of Jesus' public ministry I'm sure I would have seen and heard about all the good he was doing. Maybe I'd even be one of the privileged few who got to look directly into his eyes and encounter his passion and great mercy. I'm giving myself a pass and imagining myself among those women at the foot of the cross.


Willing to stand up for Jesus. To risk being seen with one of his disciples. Crying tears with his mother. I'm going to picture myself making a list of the spices we'd need to take to his borrowed tomb for a proper burial in a few short days. I won't have the audacity to imagine I have the courage or intimacy with Jesus that Mary Magdalene did, but I am going to place myself right by her side on Sunday morning as well. I'd never get over the sight of his empty tomb!


This Easter I will make a big deal out of God and trust the one who called me his in these days would have summoned me back then as well, and I would have responded to his voice.


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