When we think of religion we often think of separation. Different clothes, different places and different lifestyles. Unfortunately for many it has gone to the extreme where purity is measured by protocol, position or pomp. Most faiths are marked by outward appearance, Jesus marked by inward transformation.
Jesus moved the goalposts. By becoming a ‘friend of sinners’ he learned the art of integration. Paul put it like this ‘becoming all things to all men, in order to win some for Christ’ (paraphrase). Integration does not mean ‘an absence of separation’. Just like oil and water cannot mix, so purity and pollution cannot flow in the same river. When oil and water are put together in a glass, they will separate into two distinct layers – why? – because they are of different densities. They are in contact, but they are separate and the point of contact is called ‘relationship’.
The presence of God and the presence of the world, are two different densities. They are composed of different ‘matter’. Where God loves, the world lusts. Where God leads, the world drives. There is a difference in quality, character and nature.
The danger of isolation – is pride. The product of integration – is compassion. Where religion hardens, relationship softens. Where religion hibernates, relationship necessitates.
God so loved the world that he gave His only Son. The passion of Christ is not to the position or the protocol or the pomp – it’s to the people. Jesus was not a popularist, he didn’t swing with the majority, and he married compassion with confrontation, conviction with controversy.
To love people – is to be a dangerous person.