Religion = Death

steak lobsterI learned something new today. Religion means to tie back, constrain, as in bondage. Fascinating! Religion is about constraint, about a return to bondage.

Isn’t that the truth? Haven’t you been sick to death of all the rules and regs associated with world religions? “Do this, don’t do that.” Religious rules are man-made. They are invariably about what you can do to be right with God.

May I tell you that Jesus comes right alongside you to say he’s sick to death of religion also? He said as much to the religious leaders of his day (Matthew 23). Religion is bondage to striving to do for God (as if we could really do things for him–He’s GOD). Instead, Jesus came to do something for us–something we could never do–to reconcile us to God. Amazing. When we work for God, we are trying to pay for the gift he wants to give us.

Look at it this way. Your neighbor invites you and your family to dinner. It is a lovely five-course meal that obviously cost a lot of money. As you’re finishing the last chocolate truffle, she says it would be nice if you would pay something to offset the cost. Maybe $20. Suddenly, the whole focus has shifted. You are chilled and you can’t get out of there fast enough. That is the implication when we come to Christ through grace, but soon well-meaning church members suggest things we can “do for God” (again, as if). “Don’t you want to do this for Him, after all He’s done for you?” Well, I thought it was a gift. No? Then why did you say it was a gift? Yes? Then why are you asking me to pay?

Or, turn it around. This neighbor invites you to this lovely dinner. At the end, you say, “May I pay you? I have $20.” Do you blame her for being hurt? She would rightly think, I don’t want you to pay for this. Take it a step deeper: $20 wouldn’t even pay for the wine, much less the filet mignon, lobster and foie gras. Not even the chocolate truffles. You clearly don’t understand the magnitude of the gift. You have reduced her generous offering to a financial transaction and insulted her deeply in the process.

So it is when we “do for God” when we clearly have nothing to offer Him except our open hearts. He doesn’t need our work (can’t He accomplish what He wants without us? He is God…). He wants our hearts.

Oh Lord, remind us that You have given us a gift beyond measure and you want us to rest in it and enjoy it and enjoy You. Above all, show us how to enjoy YOU.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

“Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’” John 6:28-29

3 thoughts on “Religion = Death

  1. I’ve never found a religion I agree with (maybe because, in order for any religion to be as right as followers try to convince non-followers it is, everybody else has to be wrong). I DO, however, agree with the concept (about religion being bondage, constraint) that you present (SO VERY WELL, I might add) in this post. Thanks for an unusual, thought-provoking (and WELL-WRITTEN) post!

      • I read your kind response again, and I was moved to say that religion is about something we must do, while Christianity is (meant to be) about Christ. Jesus simply wants us to be in relationship with Him, not to do anything for him. But you may be hard-pressed to search through the majority of Christians to find those who really understand it is about relationship with Jesus. I do believe that more and more Christ-followers seem to be sounding the message of relationship rather than behavior. (Behavior naturally follows the relationship.) That leads to my favorite quote by Ravi Zacharias: “Jesus’ offer is not to make bad people good but to make dead people alive.” That exactly sums it up! Thanks again for your comment.

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