Inspired by John 18:28-32
“So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’” John 18:29-30 (NRSV)
Over the centuries many ideas have gained popularity regarding God and how best to worship him and live according to his will. Some of those ideas were fads that fell out of favor after a while; others took root and became part of the tradition that some of us have inherited. But not everything that fell out of favor was worthless, nor is everything that we’ve inherited worth keeping. To determine what is true, we must constantly ask, “Why do we do this? How does this honor God?”
Some of the truths we cling to are based on nothing more than tradition, inertia, and our own sensibilities. When we’re called to justify our beliefs, we make circular arguments; our arguments derive from the ‘truth’ of our initial claim, and therefore support them. For example, the religious leaders believed Jesus to be a criminal. When the Roman governor, acting as judge, asked them what Jesus’ crime was, they merely pointed out that Jesus had been handed over to the Roman governor, and since only criminals were handed over like that, Jesus must be a criminal. No facts, no details of a crime committed. The only proof they had that Jesus was a criminal was the fact that they were treating him like one.
Questioning our practices is healthy for maintaining a living, active faith in our living, active God. He is no empty, circular argument; while he cannot be ‘proven’ with the scientific method, the effects of his love in the world can be perceived. Likewise we cannot assume that all who stand accused of being ‘un-Christian’ actually are, or that those who are rejected by today’s religious authorities are also rejected by God.
What are some of your religious assumptions that haven’t been questioned in a while? What do you get out of clinging to them? Do they honor the God who was executed as a criminal and responded by conquering death and forgiving those who killed and abandoned him?
Let us pray. Loving God, your compassion for us overcame our guilt. Help us to consider our own assumptions with a critical eye, that we may truly honor you in all that we say and do. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.