[Please, if you would, take a moment right now to pray for a special intention of mine today. Thank you so much!]
This video was making the rounds on my Facebook news feed yesterday. You may have seen it:
Now I was a fan of this guy’s last video. And in this video, he does say some things that are right, and I get that his heart is in the right place. Where I take issue is that he is not merely saying that Jesus is greater than Religion (which, by the way, I agree with). He is saying that Jesus hates religion. And while it may be tempting to play the, “yeah, I think religious people are lame, too” card in an attempt to get more people to hear our message, we need to be careful that our message does not fly in the face of the Gospel. I don’t have time to cover everything misleading in the video here, but I will try to hit the main points.
What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?
…Then I’d say you probably haven’t read the New Testament very carefully. Jesus is pretty clear in Matthew 5:17 when He says,
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”
The Law, of course, being the Law of Moses, i.e. The Old Covenant, i.e. RELIGION.
In the Old Testament, God actually calls religious people whores
Yes, God called some religious people whores in the Old Testament—when they were being unfaithful to the Law (in other words: when they were disobeying the laws of their RELIGION—their religion given to them by God, by the way)
In the New Testament, Jesus refers to the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites an awful lot, but remember the definition of a hypocrite: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. Jesus actually told the disciples that they should DO what the scribes and Pharisees tell them.
“…practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice” (Matthew 23:3).
“Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19-20)
Doesn’t sound like Jesus hates religion to me. In fact it sounds like He takes it pretty seriously.
When individuals use religion as a mask or for personal gain? Yes, Jesus hates that. But only because religion is not (and never was) meant to be a mask. It’s meant to be an aid.
If I’m sick, knowing the doctor is definitely going to be important. I’m going to need a relationship with him in order to let him know what is hurting me so that he can heal me. But the fact of the matter is, if there’s no hospital, I’m not going to be able to find a doctor. If I don’t go in for regular check-ups (even when I don’t feel like I’m sick), I’m not going to remain healthy. If there’s no medicine when I am sick, my relationship with the doctor isn’t going to be enough to make me well again. There’s a reason the doctor prescribes medicine, just like there is a reason God gave us the rules of religion.