Religion versus Jesus

Is it possible to hate religion but love Jesus?

That’s the theme of a popular video that’s gone viral over the past week or so.

As I wrote Friday, sometimes it reflects disdain for the church, which is unhealthy and wrong.

But on the other hand, I think they’ve got a message we need to hear. They’re critiquing something that’s very real in some of our churches.

The problem is . . . it’s possible to be religious but not a Christian. Wear the right name, sit in the right pew, sing the right songs. Get baptized in the right baptistery.

But all of that can be empty, lifeless, superficial.

We might have religion without relationship. We can go to church and not know Christ.

That should scare us, because it’s particularly tempting to those of us who are serious about faith.

Satan loves nothing more than collapsing our faith into the outward exercise of religion. He likes it when people substitute skin-deep ritual for soulful spirituality.

Religion doesn’t scare him, but a relationship does.

That’s why he absolutely loved the Pharisees. He had them exactly where he wanted them—all covered up in religion and law and rituals.

But they didn’t know God, who had gotten lost in all of the religious trappings.

And it’s still happening.

If you find yourself being more dedicated to religious exercises than to loving Christ and the people He created, your religion might’ve gotten in the way of Jesus.

Should we hate religion? Only if by “religion” we mean the religious baggage that obscures the Lord.

But when we truly love Jesus, we’ll love His people, we’ll want to worship and obey Him, and we’ll want to be a part of His church.

Whatever we do religiously must be motivated by our love for the One who died to save us. Otherwise, it becomes nothing more than a kind of dead religion that never saves anyone.

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