Okay, this might be my most direct and hopefully most helpful post yet about religion.
I often say we are called to love what Jesus loves mainly….people. Everyone. All 6.7 billion of them. But what if we’re also supposed to hate what Jesus seemed to hate?! Obviously that could and should include sin anything that offends God.
But what if Jesus hates religion. Or maybe more clearly stated religiosity. No….maybe just religion! Think of Matthew 21 when he entered Jerusalem. The people said “this is Jesus the Prophet from Nazareth.” (Interesting that this is what Muslims call him as well thinking of Jesus as a “Prophet” isn’t a bad thing. It seems to be headed in the right direction).
Then he enters the temple. The one time Jesus seems to be ANGRY is here. He’s angry at what Religion has done under the guise of God. Buying and selling for profit and the expense of needy and spiritually hungry people. Using religion for gain. It’s actually where religion naturally takes all of us down the wrong path (all the while looking like it¹s the right path).
What if Jesus didn’t come to set religion straight, but to abolish it? He didn’t reform or tweak Judaism he seemed to hammer it. And he for sure did not start a new religion (named after his title Christ).
Think about all the times Jesus seems upset every one has to do with an encounter with a religious person or thought process. His “Woe to the unrepentant cities” at the end of Matthew 11 is this. Every confrontation with a Pharisee (except the honest seeker Nicodemus), was this. The Seven Woes of Matthew 23 is this.
What if Jesus came to set the world free from religion. What if the message of the cross and resurrection really are about total freedom. Freedom to follow Jesus and be filled with the Spirit. Freedom from sin and death. Freedom to not be religious as a way of finding meaning and life.
My question to you is this how far do we take this? Some will surely (and I believe, mistakenly) take this to be “anti-church.” But what of the establishment we call “Christianity” or “Church” is a spirit of religion that Jesus would drive out today and which is the freedom he came to bring? And how do we decide?