Just a simple but important thought for today:
It is possible to be a religious person and still be a good person.
I know, I know. You're right. Many of the problems in our world are caused by religious people.
And I know, I know. Yes, many of the problems in North American churches are caused by religious people. Makes me sick.
But please don't lose sight of this: It is possible to be a religious person and still be a good person.
And a righteous one too.
Hard to believe nowadays. I know. It can seem like "religious" people are some of the worst people there are.
But there is a quiet revolution happening… and I pray that you will rest on the hope of this truth: There are many, many people who are religious… and who also are good. One example:
His name was Joseph… and he was uncomfortably and frustratingly and embarrassingly an official representative for one of the most notorious religious teams in history. He was a member of the brute-squad that crucified Jesus. I don't think this made him feel good about himself though… I don't think he took any pride in being associated with haters.
Religious groups can tend to do that… hate people, divide people, spit vehemence at people, and throw violence at people.
But not all religious people are fractious.
Some, it is possible, are good…
… and do good…
… and disagree with the decisions and actions of those other "religious" people who are fractious…
… and they still believe in the truth…
… and they still act in the truth…
… and therefore they still pursue goodness and mercy.
Joseph was just such a person. Here's the rest of the passage: "Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, but he had not agreed with the decisions and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he had been waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation for the Sabbath." – Luke 23:50-54
I am so encouraged by Joseph of Arimathea. He is a hero of mine.
Even while the rest of his cohort crucified and condemned people with their words and dismissals, he quietly, but confidently, behaved admirably. Joseph did not deny his faith in the Kingdom of God. He lived it… even if mournfully and even if humbly and even if determinedly… Joseph lived a life characterized by goodness.
Now that is a witness I can follow. That is a witness the world appreciates.
This year, as the world grows weary of the religious, may the good and righteous shine through. Amen.