Why I Love Jesus but Hate (bad) Religion?

If we follow Jesus’ example, would we be religious people? Read Brian LePort’s thoughts on this video going around facebook. It’s a testimony to the importance of clear and accurate definition of terms.

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3 thoughts on “Why I Love Jesus but Hate (bad) Religion?

  1. Huh, I guess I hear this message a bit differently. I didn’t hear a condemnation of real, heart-felt worship of God through the keeping of His commandments and the seeking of an ever deepening relationship with Him. I heard a challenge to not replace our relationship with God for a counterfeit practice of empty religious structures. Maybe the issue people have with this video is that the whole Post-modern “It’s cool to be anti-religion” thing has brought along its fair share of really bad theology, Universalist philosophy, and rationalization of sin as “freedom in Christ” or as a way of connecting with the lost. I get that. But knee jerk reactions to anything that challenges religion isn’t good either. Yes, Jesus practiced religion too, but he also challenged people to real commitment to God at a heart level, not just as a religious show.
    It makes me think of the following excerpt from Stephen M. Hooks study on the book of Hebrews.

    Many today seek to approach Christ on the same terms that those being addressed in the book of Hebrews did. They seek to reshape or redefine Christianity into a religion with which they can be comfortable yet to which they need not convert. As if seeking an inoculation against some dreaded disease, they want just enough of Christianity to keep from getting the real thing:

    I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please.
    Wilber Rees, $3.00 worth of God, Please.

    You see, a religion is a really good place to hide from God. Affirming a doctrine of Christ is much easier than living in devotion to Christ. Performing Christian liturgy is much easier than practicing Christian piety. To the spiritually lazy, eschatology can mean escape from moral responsibility, the sacraments can serve as a substitute for true conversion, and doctrine can become a diversion from spiritual duty. Even Christianity, reduced only to a religion, is a very good place to hide from God.

    Our author will not permit this of the Hebrew Christians. He will not let them substitute theological facts and religious forms for the substance of genuine faith. It’s not that doctrine and ritual are unimportant. To the contrary, they are “foundations” of their Christian experience. But they are not the totality of it. Foundations are meant to be built upon, not lived in. When Christianity is reduced to rehashing and rehearsing, it begins retreating. The key to Christian maturity is not the re-laying of the faith, but the releasing of the faith to grow to its full potential.

    Stephen M. Hooks

    This is what I thought the video was challenging us to understand.

  2. I agree Scott. He is challenging us to not replace a relationship with empty religious structures. I guess the problem that I and others see is in saying “religion is the problem” and not “empty religion is the problem.” His message in general is an excellent challenge, but the terms in which he frames his argument can cause damage and perpetuate the idea that Jesus and religion stand in opposition to each other rather than the biblical idea that pure religion (from James) is a life lived in devotion to Jesus, evidenced by love for others. I guess it’s just important not to throw a blanket of condemnation over something when a more nuanced approach is more accurate and helpful.

  3. I agree. People can easily throw the baby out with the bath water when making blanket statements. I think, more than ever, today we need to b challenging followers of Christ to not simply give up on the organized church and all of the religious structures or observances because of the misuses of these things by some, but rather to commit to reform and the correct observance of corporate worship and the church as the body of Christ. I have long struggled with this in my life – the tendency for corporate worship service or organized church to devolve into meaningless ceremony or times of routine practices and habitual observances. I also understand the struggle to form the types of real, Christian relationships where we can be honest about our shortcomings and struggles with sin, etc. There can be such a pressure to present ourselves the way Christians ought to be, that we hide our actual struggles with sin from the other believers who should be there to pray for us and support us.
    I think a lot of what the guy in the video was trying to share had to do with these types of issues with organized religion. Unfortunately, some people hear an overall indictment of the church instead. This is stimulating some great conversation at least. BTW, I finished reading “Imaginary Jesus.” Loved it – but left me convicted and challenged as to how to get rid of my own imaginary Jesus. Take care,
    Scott

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