Daily Devotion

July 23, 2023

Thinking outside “the religious box” (1)

“I’m after mercy, not religion…to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” Mt 9:13 MSG


Author Nicole Unice says the suspicions people have about Christians include, “They judge me. They are better than I am. They won’t approve of me. I won’t fit in with their religion. They are all serious and no fun. Jesus hung around enough parties for the Pharisees to accuse him of being a drunkard. He befriended forbidden women. He interacted with people so he could introduce them to his Father. He broke through stereotypes and communicated God as he is—approachable, merciful and graceful. The people who were most upset…were the ones who preferred…the rules of the religion…The concept of a free and joyful life with Jesus may seem basic for you. But is that what your neighbors think? It feels as comfortable as sweatpants to hang out with people who believe and feel as we do. Fellowship among believers is a wonderful gift. But if we are truly to follow Jesus’ example, we need to look for opportunities to engage those around us.” Jesus goes a step further: “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick?…‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” How can you share the gospel if all your friends are Christians? Some of us have become so isolated and disconnected that we have no meaningful interaction whatsoever with nonbelievers. And the more time passes, the more insulated and comfortable we become, until eventually we lose touch with the very people Jesus came to save. Paul says, “Find common ground with [nonbelievers]…tell [them] about Christ…let Christ save [them]” (1Co 9:22 TLB). It’s called thinking outside “the religious box.”