Ticked Off

Saturday, July 6, 2024
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Listen while you read: "Come Let Us To The Lord Our God"1 (Lyrics)

My wife and I once set up a kids' club for over 40 inner-city children each Monday night. They ran about screaming and shouting, thankful for a large hall to play in, especially during wet and cold winter nights. Beneath the hall, a small group of a dozen men, who had met in the basement for years, started to complain about the noise and wanted the kids to play elsewhere. We tried to explain about the church being a safe sanctuary for the children, but they didn't like the disturbance. Eventually, due to pressure from the elders, the club was ended. Instead of welcoming the kids, the congregational leaders stubbornly stuck to their traditional programs. A couple of years later, the church closed because it had no future generation of children in its midst.

Mark 3:1-2,5 – Another time [Jesus] went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. … He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. (NIV)

This was a similar situation in which Jesus was ticked off. In a sacred place where the community worshipped God, compassion was meant to be available to everyone, and the religious folks' lack of compassion made Jesus angry. The regular attenders closed their hearts and minds to what was needed because they only wanted their religious rules to be strictly heeded.

Nevertheless, Jesus broke the Pharisees' rules and customs of what was right, rather than pander to what was so obviously wrong to Him. Later, in the temple, Jesus became angry at dishonest moneychangers, but here, we have Jesus becoming angry because good people — good religious people — were doing nothing to help, and they justified their lack of action by hiding behind their sacred rules.

I often wonder what Jesus thinks about some of us in the church today. How many issues and problems could be solved in our communities, as well as all over this planet, if church people — Christ's followers — were to help those in need instead of hindering the outcast, the alien, the different, the poor, the hungry, the war-trapped, and the unloved? Sometimes, church people — even me — get angry when faced with other people's problems because it offends the moral or religious codes that we keep inside of ourselves. But instead of our getting angry, we should ask ourselves this honest question: Is Christ angry with us because we say or do nothing?

Point to ponder: Who needs my help today? What would Jesus do?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, following You leads us into difficult situations and causes us a great deal of discomfort. Challenge our indifferent ways and change us so that we may help those in need whom we encounter. In Your holy name, we humbly pray. Amen.

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About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Hi John,
    Thanks for sharing today. Love your servant’s heart. Don’t give up.

    Thank you for sharing this timely devotional with us. So heartbreaking that churches blow apart over unfamiliar change. Blessings.

    Amen! Thank you for your devotional.
    May God continue to bless you and may we seek to do His will always!

    Unfortunately, so true! We had a similar situation with new carpet in the sanctuary, a small church, and youth needing to meet there — but heaven forbid that they bring in snacks on the new carpet! Thanks, John.

    Thank you, John, for this devotional, we so do need to open up our churches to the young and not always follow our own, old ways. Children are so precious and a gift to us, we must show them the love of Jesus. Blessings.

    Thanks for the good words. I have also experienced similar tensions between serving people and church “rules” that seemed to reflect a lack of love for the needy. Thankfully, that eventually changed and serving the community has become part of the DNA of my church.

    Good morning: Your devotional hit a cord with me for I have seen this very sort of thing at the church I attend. Makes me sad. I often wonder if I am hearing/seeing incidents wrong, but your story lets me know my thoughts are not all wrong. Thank you for writing.

    Good morning, John,
    Your devotionals always make me think and want to change and understand situations better. Thank you for sharing about situations you have experienced and using Bible passages to enhance your message.

    Thank you, John, for your good, instructive words today. So true that we can easily become angry or upset about something someone says, but we really need to take time and think about what they might be going through or dealing with, before jumping to our reasoning of the situation. We sure must be patient and ask the Lord to help us see what situation the other person has encountered. Blessings for these very special writings you prepare.

    Oh John, we Presbyterians sometimes take “decently and in order” too far. Our very small church is dealing with some growing pains. A former choir director who moved away has returned and is leading the “regeneration” movement. The current Christian Education chairman on the Session also teaches a Sunday morning Bible study class. She has accused the former of “stealing” her class members….well, it is really not so, and she has calmed down a bit, but your story so reminded me of our situation. Furthermore, our pastor has retired and that puts us in the midst of another situation and so it goes.
    Thank you for writing this devotional.

    Thank you, John, for your devotion.
    It’s ‘right on’, for the problems of the church.
    They don’t have the vision to look for the needs of the future and train those who should take over.
    I worked with youth and children for fifty years.
    I retired from teaching Sunday School and session in the past several years.
    I was told a few times by my fellow elders that I was wasting my time on all these youth in the church and those outside.
    I organized the youth fellowship and was given orders from some of the parents on
    how to run the youth’s fellowship. Since I was a Scout master for 7 years, I learned how to work with youth, and not just to order them around. I taught them leadership and what it means to be good citizens in our community.
    Today, the bulk of the management of my church is being organized and run by people who used to be my students. I am so happy to know that I have had a little influence in some of their lives. A few of them have gone on mission trips.
    One has gone into the ministry and is currently working on her PHD in England.
    I served to help this church with what I myself learned along the way.
    I thank God for giving me this chance.
    I am now blessed with grandchildren and find great joy just watching them develop and grow. My son and his family will be going on their second mission trip this summer.
    I still participate in our VBS (one week) every summer.
    I still get to spend time with my other son and family out west in the summer. They taught me how much fun can be had fishing with the Grandkids.
    I have been so blessed, and I’m ready for what God wants me to do next.
    I enjoy and read all your devotions, thanks for them.
    Blessings and may God be with you always.

    That is a great message, John. Thank you.

    Amen John! What would Jesus say and do?
    Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

    Love the Lord and your neighbor as yourself.

    Our church has a very large sanctuary, would hold over 300. Our current attendance is well under 100.
    The church was designed by the older Elders, who wanted a building with a large, beautiful area, with comfortable pew seating. We have a tiny nursery that holds one playpen and a chair.
    Everyone talks about growing the church, encouraging young families to join, but it is difficult to accommodate these young families. We do have some classrooms, but we rent our multi-purpose hall to another church.
    My son’s church about a mile away has a large auditorium with chairs for their sanctuary. Above this room there is a multitude of Sunday school classrooms. They allow coffee in the auditorium for the young parents because they don’t worry about stains on the carpet or the padded pew seats. They can reconfigure their “sanctuary” for sports and other events. This church has over 200 children attending.
    Our parishioners were looking for comfort first and growth second…we may be sitting comfortably but our numbers are dwindling away.
    Being entrenched in tradition can strangle a church.
    Thank you always for continuing to write.

    Amen to that!!

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