GRRRR…how I hate those words. They grate on my soul like fingers on a chalkboard.
When someone says them to me, I feel like I’ve been patted on the head and shoved out the door. Or worse yet, patted on the head and dismissed, ignored…
Flicked away like a piece of lint.
I find the words belittling and condescending.
I want to scream, “NO! I am not ‘religious!’ I am a follower of a PERSON – Jesus Christ! I have a RELATIONSHIP with God Himself! Don’t you get it?!”
The truth of the matter is this – they DON’T get it.
And then, instead of feeling angry, I feel sad.
People who say this to me are so mistaken, so confused, so lost…
Our pastor is beginning a series entitled: “Why Jesus Hates Religion – moving beyond empty ritual…to authentic relationship.”
One of the definitions of the word “religion” in the dictionary is this:
A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
Sounds “OK” –
Religion is man’s attempt to understand the infinite – to know the unknowable.
But there ARE problems with that…
Let’s talk about three of them:
1) Religion says: Find YOUR way to God
Jesus says: I am God WITH you
Religion is not Good News – it makes us read the Bible the wrong way. The Bible is not a book about me – telling me how to live. The primary purpose of the Bible is to tell us God’s story! The Bible is not a book telling me what I should do – it is a book that tells what God has DONE.
2) Religion says: Work to make yourself righteous
Jesus says: I give forgiveness and healing
Religious people don’t need Jesus. They have their own rules, their own works to make them seem righteous. But the Bible is very clear that NO ONE is good enough to be righteous on their own.
Romans 3:23 – “For everyone has sinned; we ALL FALL SHORT of God’s glorious standard.”
But this thought continues in verses 24 and 25: “YET GOD, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.”
Jesus said He could do what we could not – forgive sins!
Now, THAT’S Good News!
3) Religion says: We provide the way to God
Jesus says: Religion is no way to God – I AM THE WAY
Religion promises things it can’t deliver – because love is a gift…it can never be earned.
Religion often appeals to us because we want to be in control of our relationship with God. We do “such and such,” and then we expect God to do “this and that.”
But, God is the Author of our salvation, the One who reached out to us – and Jesus is the “language” He chose to speak to a lost and fallen world.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO ONE can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
It is the most expansive statement in the history of the world. Jesus wants us to live in the FREEDOM of love.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Does Jesus “hate” religion? Yes…
But oh…how He LOVES us! He gave His all, He gave His life for us…
“No, I love a PERSON – Jesus Christ – who is the ONLY way to God. He FORGAVE my sins – something I could NEVER do. He provided the way for me to have a RELATIONSHIP with God…forever.”
Would you like to meet Him?
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"