There is a video going viral now on Youtube regarding religion. Some portions I agreed with, and some I didn't. Several friends pointed it out to me, the first of which is a D.Min. student and former pastor of mine. A Messianic Jewish Rabbi friend asked me what I thought, so here we go. I was also reminded of this Mark Driscoll video I saw previously. Many of these thoughts really could be a chapter in a book, hmm..
Jesus is greater than religion is more or less true, depending on how you define religion. What is religion? To me I view it as a belief system based on God's special revelation to us via the Bible. I think what both of these people are objecting to is a set of rules to live by.
Did He come to abolish religion? Once again I think there is a religion definition problem here. He and many of His followers were Jews. He came to fulfill The Law.
I do realize folks who label themselves as Conservative Christians sometimes do both groups a disservice. If we spout beliefs with hostility or angst, that is incorrect. We are called to be His ambassadors; we need to do that.
We all have planks in our eyes, sins and problems that we struggle with; we need to not be looking down our noses at others.
Religions have started wars because people have taken the task of conversion entirely too far. I would say that people who call themselves Christians that have done this are not adhering to the teachings of Christ, and might need to question their faith. That is God's job, not mine.
Why does religion build huge churches? Especially since I am an Ex-Catholic, I will confess this is a tougher question. In part I would say folks have obeyed the idea of giving greatly to God for the sake of an excellent location for a worship service. They likely missed out on what we would call a Christ centered life in today's language, being too focused on the facility and Sunday service. By now I am hearing the Organic/Missional/Frank Viola/Brian McLaren message pretty clearly in this video.
Why are the poor not being fed? They are by some community organizations, at least here in San Diego, though hunger is still a problem. There is a relevant Bible story about helping the poor or disadvantaged. We should contemplate this story and the poor.
We can't be looking down at the single Moms. I grew up in a household like that; those Moms are putting in serious work. They may or may not have have sinned to get in that situation. We don't know all the facts. I think all we should do is present God's Word to them in a kind way and let God work on them.
Regarding the way we act when we are believers, I think we would all agree there are always some things we don't want the world to know, that only our closest friends should. If we get to a point where we are taking the false facade too far, we can wind up like the Pharisees. Are our hearts circumcised as we see in Romans 2? Our lives should be visibly different as believers. I would personally hope that as we grow closer to God we would sin less, though I know perfection in a sinless sense is only attainable by God.
God has done great things with people who have sinned in very big ways. Repent and believe is the basis of the Gospel; we need to do that. Once we realize what He has done and can do for us eternally, we should be overflowing with joy.
Christ did come for the sick, we need to be sure to not exclude them from our assemblies of believers if they are moved by God to investigate and perhaps come closer to Christ.
Once we realize it is all from Him our faith is from Him and not our actions, that is a very freeing experience.
We need to be careful of disregarding rules; there are some things we are told to do or not do in The Bible. If you aren't sure, research it or ask around among your believing friends. Once again I think there is the issue of what kind of ambassador are we being. Sanctification and rewards also come into play here. Do we want treasures in heaven?
I suspect the video is right, that many of us would not let Jesus in, or we would at least look down at Him tremendously, if he showed up with 1st Century appearance and odor? He is also very right regarding Jesus not supporting self righteousness. Once again, modifying our focus off of ourselves and onto Him is what we should do, and this really should be a pretty fundamental Christian teaching.
While religion is a man-made system, assuming we have proper Biblical texts to go by, this man-made system should be based on God given ideas. Do we screw up, absolutely. Repent.
Religion is an infection if you miss out on the self righteousness lesson above, and become too much about either the system or the institution, and not enough about Him.
Slave is a word with substantial negative connotation in the USA. However, we were bought at a price. The Greek word doulos is best translated as slave; we often see servant instead because of these negative connotations.
Jesus does make us see; He is the light as John 1 so clearly states to us. Does a religious institution make us blind to Him. I would argue that may or may not be true depending on the group you assemble with.
I believe that both God searching for man AND man searching for God can occur. Ideally, as we grow in faith, we continue to search to know more and more of His truth. The last 50 seconds or so is excellent, until the very end when hatred for religion is repeated.