Well I am back and I think I might stay a while. Back to writing about family, about faith and about culture.
Today, Religion vs. Jesus…
This video did the rounds about a year ago & was pretty popular. There is certainly some good elements to it.
I think the author, Jefferson Bethke, picks up one one of the big biblical themes. What does it mean if you have all of the external trappings of “religion” but fail to have the relationship that is at the heart of it? Jesus himself was hard on the Pharisees who were so committed to religious rules that they tithed the herbs in their garden, but failed when it came to justice, mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).
I think the church has done a spectacularly bad job when it comes to painting a picture of Christianity as being about a personal relationship between the God of all creation, and us, his creatures. We are wonderful (particularly institutional churches like us Anglicans) at making things about the clothes we wear, the pews, the buildings, and the people we hang out with. It’s helpful to have a corrective that reminds us that, not only is this not at the heart of Christianity, but Jesus spoke against such things!
That said, there are many faithful Christians who have a vibrant relationship with Jesus who are also part of the “religious” structures. “Religion” is not inherently dangerous… it is only a danger when the structures that are built to point people to God become a sort of god themselves.
Over my years in full-time ministry, I have met a number of people who are caught up in the pageantry and formality of religion. I met someone who was an ordained minister, yet didn’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and said they couldn’t ascribe to the creeds that they led their congregation in week by week. It breaks my heart to think that people might be caught up in the “religion” without a deep and personal relationship with Jesus… But I also knew that there were Christians in that persons congregation who continued to grow, who continued to open up their bible and discover a God who loved them. I also know that the formal structure that is the Anglican Church is still something that members of our culture still feel connected to, that it is a means by which we can reconnect with people who haven’t darkened the door of a church in many years.
I like the point that Jefferson’s trying to make. In the end it is all about Jesus… I want to honour him in everything I do, and when I see “religion” in the right context, it can do just that!