Thursday, August 21, 2008
Do Not Tolerate Religion
I hate religion.
I know, this is a crazy statement, especially for a youth minister. Let me explain, and let’s get our terms defined. Religion is simply our feeble attempts to get to God or to please God through our own power or our own efforts. Religion is about me and my manipulation of circumstances and choices in an effort to manipulate God. This is how I see religion and it seems to me that this is how Jesus sees religion, see Matthew chapters 5-7 and 22-23. In looking at religion through the lens of this definition, Christianity ceases to be a religion. Christianity is a relationship with God that He initiates and maintains through no effort of our own. There is an old cliché that I love that sums this up well: “Religion says do. Christianity says done.” See, Christ has made the effort and initiated the relationship with us and we can enter into that relationship because of what Jesus has done on the cross and through His resurrection from the grave. This is despite of who we are and what we have done. God moves toward us, despite of us.
In 1 John 4:9-10, John asserts that “We love Him (God) because He first loved us.” John says before this, in 1 John 4:7, that we are to “love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” This love is God. This love is motivated out of God’s initiative toward us. We only are capable of love because of the love that God has already demonstrated to us through His son Jesus laying His life down for His friends, and He has called us his friends. This relationship is initiated by God Himself, not us.
So where are we with this whole religion mess? In speaking about religion and following and learning from Christ, Paul gives this instruction to his readers in Colossians:
“So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.
Don’t tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They’re a lot of hot air, that’s all they are. They’re completely out of touch with the source of life, Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us. He is the Head and we are the body. We can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us. ”
Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Col 2:16-19
Despising and not tolerating religion, but plugging into the source of life,