“Why I hate religion but love Jesus.”
That’s the title of a short video that’s gone viral over the past week. It’s pretty hip, catchy, slick.
It’s not new, though. Not really. “I want the man but not the plan” is how they worded it a few years back.
And honestly, I have mixed feelings about what these folks are saying.
Some people reject organized religion out of selfishness or arrogance. They don’t like being a part of any kind of group that might restrict their freedom to do what they want. They don’t want anything to do with the trappings of religion, like public worship, joining a local church, or being accountable to church leadership.
If that’s what they’re rejecting, they need to know that Jesus created the church as a community where believers can grow and worship together and encourage one another. It’s a group of Christians who try to follow God’s plan for leadership, worship, outreach, loving the lost, and serving the community.
And yes, sometimes the church is a place where believers who are caught up in sin can be confronted lovingly by fellow believers (cf. Galatians 6:1).
Is that the kind of religion some people hate?
If so, they’re missing out on a big part of discipleship.
This is how Jesus felt about the church:
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Paul wrote “to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
The church matters to God.
He loves it. He died for it.
I can’t accept Jesus and at the same time reject the body of believers to which He adds me when I’m saved. Jesusis the church; it’s His body.
So if that’s what folks mean when they say they hate religion but love Jesus, they’re missing the point.
But perhaps that’s not exactly what they mean. Maybe they’re defining “religion” differently . . . in a way that might have something important to say to us in today’s church.
We’ll consider that in our next devotional.