After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews ‘Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee. -John 7:1-9
This passage seems a little odd, why did John put this in here? I think it’s wonderful and totally applicable to our situation right now. Jesus’ brother basically say to him “hey since you are so smart why don’t you go to the city, the big schools, the big institutions, so you can be recognized” Verse five says that they didn’t believe in him yet they were supposedly encouraging him to enter the big leagues. I think we can conclude that they were being sarcastic. Or they thought some healthy competition would humble him, would shut him up. It also reminds us of another prophet and his brothers, Joseph. It was obvious to everyone that Joseph was very gifted, just like Jesus. Both had more wisdom than they ought. But rather than humbly follow him, Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him. And that might be the case here, as verse one says the Jewish leaders sought to kill him.
I actually get this type of thing a lot. “Why don’t you go to college and get some fancy degrees and then you can change the system from the inside.” “Why don’t you go into politics so you can clean up the system?” “Why don’t you get some fancy titles so people will respect you.” But that’s not the way Jesus changed the world. He destroyed one of the most powerful governments the world has ever seen by dying. He overthrew of of the most corrupt religious systems the world has ever seen by taking twelve disciples and starting the Church.
And that’s the same Church we have today, perhaps even better. We have been around for two thousand years, learning from our mistakes and working the message of the gospel to more and more of the planet. But the down side is that we have that many years of accumulated baggage and heresy. And we have accumulated enemies, within and without. This is not the first time this has happened either. But the faithful Church limps on dramatically reforming the world as it does. The Puritans were in a similar situation, they were being persecuted for holding to the promises of God’s word, and actually living it. They sought to reform the church in England, which after a couple hundred years of Reformation light had become corrupt again. They were not afraid to be pushed out of society, or ostracized, if it meant compromising with the commands of scripture. They held firm and attempted to change the corruption where they were at. Eventually they were pushed to The Continent and then to the New World. But they held firm and after a few generations of faithfulness, they defended their homeland agains the most powerful military force on the planet. They one the right to prove that their faithfulness to the promises of God was superior religion. They were hated for generations, even after most of them passed from the scene. Many today still try to retell the story with the Puritans as the bad guys. “Did you know they outlawed fun?” “They only saw in black an white, color was forbidden.” They burned witches and hate sex, and on and on the lies go. But the reality is that we all benefit to this day from the vibrant work they did.
Sadly that is not the end of the story. God blessed them and all of their posterity for their faithfulness. And as usually happens, in our prosperity we forgot all about him. There were a couple great awakenings and the hard times of the 30’s and 70’s which brought some people back to reality. But we are in dire need of nationwide, worldwide repentance. Christendom is in bad shape. Our knowledge of the Bible is sorely lacking, and the application of what it says is nonexistent. We are the most powerful nation on the planet and the result of our apostasy is that the whole world suffers. There is no justice.
But the solution is not to accumulate titles or to attempt to take over the principalities and powers, the moribund academic and political institutions. The solution is the Church. Not the warm fuzzy cowardly church simply affirming any evil anyone want’s to do while calling it love, but the real Church. A group of people committed to doing what God says, regardless of what anyone or everyone thinks, or will do to them. People who don’t try and find common ground with the world but who walk in the way of the Lord, even when it takes them to paths of war with those who worship other gods. People not consumed with buying stuff or vacations, but with giving their lives for their children, raising up a new generation who only know obedience, and the blessings of being the faithful people of God. Children taught to stand up and fight the dragons of this age, defending the weak and powerless rather than feeding their own lusts. We must abandon the institutions of this world and build a new community from the ground up. Then those facades, will fall apart, just like the religious schools of the Pharisees. We need to stop depending on the handouts and programs from the false god of government for our bread, but instead lean on the Bread of Life. We need to stop relying on the next election to solve our problems, but put our faith in the King of Kings. We need Jesus the Christ, we need to obey him and follow in his work of building the church, twelve men at a time. Only then will we remake the world.