Our cats are silly! They loved to hide out in the taller grass that I haven’t trimmed down and wait. They love to wait for some unsuspecting kitten or person to pass by and they pounce. It is a great game for them! Unfortunately, it is also an instinct. Hiding, crouching, and pouncing, are all hunting types of activities. These cats hunt for prey to eat. It might seem to be a harmless game they play with the kids or others but it comes from something deeper.
In Matthew 26 we find Jesus on trial before the Pharisees. They had been lying in wait for many months and had finally found a way to pounce on Jesus. Through Judas, they sucker punched Him! He knew it was coming. He planned for this time. He brought witnesses with Him but they all ran away and denied knowing Him. Standing before the religious leadership, Jesus was being asked about, and accused of, several things. Finally, this happened…
63 But Jesus kept silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place You under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!” 64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Look, now you’ve heard the blasphemy! 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!”
Because of their religious rules, the leadership had the opportunity to rid themselves of this nuisance. They could bring the guilty verdict and demand execution. They were giddy with excitement over their newly trapped prey.
Have you ever known somebody you was always looking to trap you? Have you ever found yourself waiting to see someone stumble? Outside the simplicity of our depravity and proclivity to sin, why do people behave this way? More critical is why do church people behave this way? It is easy to see why the murderer, rapist, or thief might behave this way. However, those attending church ought to act different. Everyone believes that point. Everyone. So why do some act that way who attend church and claim the love God, the Bible, America, and apple pie? Here are a few thoughts….
1. They are church people but not Christian people. While this might come as a shock to some who read this, just take a breath. There are people who are church members but not actual Christians. Some define Christianity as being a member of a church and working at church. Scripture defines Christianity as people having put faith in Jesus and follow Him explicitly.
2. They haven’t let go of the “old ways”. The Bible speaks of our sinful nature before Christ as the “old person”. When, by faith, we receive forgiveness, the old is put away and the new has come into play. All will struggle with this putting away the old. In the moment of salvation, we were cleansed of all unrighteousness, but often fall short of living in that state of forgiveness and righteousness. Our involvement in the world system creates a space for the old person to rise up and have influence.
3. Rules are more important than relationships. High-strung, type-A personalities have a tendency to see rules more than relationships and programs more than people. Because of this, people can be harmed. Obsolete rules or dying programs will be held without reason. Jesus was changing the game and they did not want to play. Often this happens in our churches too. Times change. People change. Methods change. Truth stays the same. For some, nothing should ever change. Here lies the friction.
4. Lowering you makes them feel bigger. Honestly, some people have such low esteem that anything that helps them feel better is justified in their mind. You were the target for the day. In those moments, the rush of emotion that comes from power overcomes them and they have a taste for more.
How do we respond? Well, like Jesus.
1. With love. Jesus knew the larger context of God’s plan. If you are aware of God’s larger plan it is easier to accept these moments and move forward.
2. With truth. Jesus answered honestly, even though He knew the consequences.
3. With gentleness. Jesus did not get into arguments or shouting matches. Arguing with such is like wrestling a pig. Both get dirty but the pig likes it.
We all face people out for blood at times in our lives. I pray we respond like Jesus.