why it’s hard for me to follow Jesus

In my choice to be a follower of Jesus, I’ve noticed over these 68 years that one of my consequences is having to thus address those nearby who are self-righteous in their religious faith. Jesus addressed those nearby him and we read in the gospels that these were mostly Jewish Pharisees. They didn’t appreciate the way he addressed them. They, after all, saw themselves as being right and others wrong. They were “holier than thou,” to borrow a religious colloquialism. And Jesus confronted them on this.
It could not have been easy for Jesus to do this. These were his own people, the Jews! Not the pathetic Gentiles. Not the evil Romans. Why did he not pick on those obvious enemies of the Jews? They were the real “bad guys” in their land. Why go after the “good guys” who were trying to protect the land from the worthless Samaritans, the evil government soldiers and tax collectors, the loose women, the filthy lepers, the violent murderers? For every mistake the Pharisees made, the sins of others were ten times worse! Or so they thought.
Jesus didn’t see it that way. He confronted them. They pretty much hated him. They wanted to, well, “crucify him!” And so that couldn’t have been an easy thing for Jesus to do. I know, because it’s extremely hard for me to do now as his follower. I hate having to confront any self-righteous Christians in my day. In choosing to follow Jesus, this is one of the consequences that comes with the territory. It means following him to the cross. Luke 14:27 comes to mind, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Oh, and then there was Luke 9:23, “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Well, and Matthew 10:38, Mark 8:34, John 12:25-26, Hebrews 13:13. Need I go on?
In my most rational mind, I know that Jesus cannot lead me to the resurrection except through the crucifixion. But in my most emotional heart, I hate having to follow him in confronting my fellow Christians for their holier than thou bigotry, their Pharisaical hypocrisy. Look what then happened to Jesus. And for that matter, look what happened to President Obama the other day when he confronted his fellow Christians at that Prayer Breakfast concerning our self-righteous attitude toward Islamic violence. TV media and then social media lit up soon afterward with cries quite similar to “crucify him!!!” Following Jesus in this way means our own people want to get rid of us.
Do you suppose it is hard for people of other faiths to confront their own self-righteous peers? Suppose it was hard for the German Christians to confront Hitler’s self-righteous Christian Arianism? Suppose it’s hard for the Muslims to confront ISIS? Do you suppose other followers of Jesus are having a hard time like me in confronting my fellow bigots and hypocrites?


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