I hate religion. Not exactly the statement most people would normally expect from someone who is crazily in love with the Lord Jesus and not ashamed to admit it. But there it is. I hate religion.
Religion is something that man created to worship God. But it was not initiated by God, and He doesn’t actually like it. Religion allows man to feel as if he is fulfilling God’s plan, but in actuality, GOD IS NOT IN RELIGION!!!!
I posted a couple of weeks ago about how I disagree with Atheism and what it applies. I stated there that I hate Atheism as an entity and not individualatheists themselves. The same goes here. I hate Religion as an entity, but I would never say that I hate people who actively participate in a religious group. On the contrary, I love people. God created them. So why do I have any ground to hate anyone?
If you take the Bible as a religious text, you are taking it in a way that is completely wrong. The Bible does not glorify religion. To be sure, there is the presence of the law in the Old Testament, and there are the sacrifices that the Israelites sacrificed in the temple. But in the New Testament, Jesus is the fulfilment of all of the sacrifices, and the law was never intended to be kept anyway. God knows that we are fully incapable of keeping the law. Don’t be jealous? Yep. Definitely broken that one at least ten billion times.
In the Bible, Religion is paired with death. Religious people are murderers. Sounds harsh huh? Well…it’s the truth. Who was the first religious person? Cain, in Genesis, forsook the way that God gave to the people to worship Him. God had ordained that the people sacrifice sheep, because the penalty of sin was death and it was only by the death of something that the sins of the person could be temporarily covered. But Cain wanted to sacrifice the produce of his own hands. He rejected the offering of the sheep (which is a picture of Christ) and wanted to do something for God. He wanted to offer the grains and wheat that he had produced. When God rejected this sacrifice because it didn’t please Him, what did Cain do? He went and murdered his brother.
Is another example needed? I’ll give two:
Firstly, who were the people who crucified Jesus? The Jews! The religious Jewish people. The leaders in the Temple. Because when they met the wonderful person Jesus and He didn’t meet their expectations, they cast Him out. They chastised Him. And when the people still followed Him, they were angry to the point that they were willing to kill. Sure, they thought they were doing it for God. But that is exactly my point. God would never kill anyone because they didn’t agree with a certain “religion”. In fact, He died Himself for our sins, so that we aren’t required to do so! That is Christ. That is what Christ does.
Then, after Jesus had been crucified, who were the people who rose up to persecute those who believed into Him? Again, the religious Jews. The apostle Paul (who was then named Saul) was a prime example of this. He was religious to the extreme. He tried to follow the law perfectly. And yet he received a permit from the government to persecute those who believed into Christ even unto death. Yet the law says “do not kill”. But what changed the religious Saul into the Jesus-loving Paul? Christ revealed Himself to Saul. Literally. The sky opened and He shined down blinding all those who were there. Then He spoke to Saul and said “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” To which Saul answered, “Who are you Lord?”. And the Lord Jesus answered: “I am Jesus, whom you persecute.” It was then that Paul realized that when He touched and persecuted the believers in Christ, he was touching and persecuting the Lord Himself. This is Christ, not religion.
Ok. One more point from the Bible (it really is an awesome book): Revelation, the last book in the Bible, speaks very strongly against the works of the Nicolaitans. What is that? It is the teaching of the clergy-laity system. That there only needs to be one person who resides over the group. This person (or group of people) can intercede on behalf of the others (the laity). Then the laity doesn’t have to actually contact God directly. Sound familiar? Yep. It’s pretty much the whole religious system. But Revelation 2:6 says that God hates the works of the Nicolaitans. Why? Because it deprives the laity of their function. Every person who believes in Christ is precious in the eyes of God, and every person can come directly to Him. This is what God wants. He wants a personal (dare I say romantic?) relationship with each and everyone of His believers. The religious system ruins this relationship.
In fact, in the course of human history, religion has always done the most to harm what God is after on this planet. After Christ died, despite the persecution from the Romans, the church (which is the sum entity of all the believers in Christ) thrived. God’s grace is more than sufficient to overcome any form of suffering. But how did the devil manage to stop (temporarily) the work of the Lord? He created the Catholic “church”. The Romans were all paid money if they would consent to being baptised into the new “church”. And, to appease them, the Romans also brought in all the old, pagean things of their old religions. A chaotic mixture was created, and it was a mixture in which God had no place. Then, acting as “God’s authority”, the Roman Catholic church murdered more genuine believers in Christ quietly than the Romans were ever able to.
So do I consider myself to be a Christian? Of course! The name “Christian” was originally a derisive name given to the believers in Christ. It simply means “believer in Christ”. And I am. Do I consider myself a religious person? I would say that I try not to be. It is incredibly easy to become religious. Whatever you do for God but apart from God is a religious act. I do, often even, do things because it is my habit, or because I really truly with all my heart want to do something good for God. But I know that this is religion and it can never please God because I do not do it with the right goal. I want to glorify myself, or my knowledge. And for that reason, mydoing doesn’t please God. So what are you supposed to do then? That is the difficult question. The answer is that you have to give Christ the room in your being to do it for you. And to that question I can honestly give no clear answer. I am learning, day by day, to depend more on Christ. I am learning, day by day, to take Him as my everything. Have I been successful so far? By no means! I can only say with Paul:
Not that I have already obtained or am already perfected, but I pursue, if even I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not account of myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do: Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal for the prize to which God in Christ Jesus has called me upward.
Then the question might arise: Do you meet with a group of Christians? And the answer is: Yes. God did not intend for us to live a religious life, but He also did not intend for us to live an individual life. I can honestly say that without other believers in Christ, I would be nowhere. It is not good for man to be alone. We desire and long for companions. And we are all related in Christ. Are we religious? Well…we try not to be. We try to meet according to what is revealed in the Bible and concentrate completely on Christ.