Religion or Jesus?

Often times when people think of Christians they think of negative traits such as hypocrisy and pushiness. Why is that? Why is it that the religion that’s basis is a grand act of love considered so…hateful? The answer is overwhelmingly simple: We are too religious.

Yes, you read that correctly. Our religion is too religious. See, the problem is not that we follow Jesus more than we should, that is not at all a possibility. The real issue is the fact that a majority of us are not creating any sort of relationship with the Lord, but a relationship with the religion. That doesn’t make sense, does it? How can someone form a bond with a mere idea? This is where the main point comes in: It’s not possible.

As Christians, our main purpose is to show the world Christ’s love. The love of a LIVING God. The cool thing about a living God is that it is completely possible to follow Him. But, how can one follow a religion? It does not give you strength, it does not keep you safe, it is not there at 3 in the morning when your heart is broken and you have no one else to turn to; that’s not religion. That’s Jesus. See, we are trying to convince a world to do the impossible and they know it! They know it is impossible because we ourselves can not even do it. No one can have a relationship with an idea, a law, a way of life.

In Mark chapter seven we see the Pharisees confront Jesus about why his disciples were eating with unwashed hands. Now, at this time the washing of their hands was a tradition that the Jews considered very important. Jesus immediately refers to them as hypocrites, and verse 9 says this: “He also said to them, ‘You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition!'”. The Pharisees were so concerned about tradition and the “show” of it all that they forgot to truly follow the Father, and as a result began following the religion. Religion can change and be whatever you want it to be, but God can not. In following religion, you are basically following yourself. The Pharisees were not pursuing God’s desires, they were pursing their own desires: the main one being self-glorification.

Does that sound familiar? If not, let me make it simple: We are the Pharisees in this situation! We go to church, but we don’t read the bible on our own. We pray in public, but never in private (unless, of course, we need something). We don’t try to really know Jesus. We preach the law but never actually attempt to follow it ourselves because we don’t have the desire or the strength to. We aren’t following Jesus, we are following religion because we want people to SEE us.. We want people to SEE what we are doing and PRAISE us. But that’s not where praise belongs, no, praise belongs to God and God alone. Religion doesn’t save you, the Savior saves you.

So, to close, I challenge you to make an effort to genuinely begin a personal relationship with the Lord if you haven’t already. Spend time with him in private. Look for his guidance and his wisdom, not the world’s. That’s where joy, peace, hope, and LOVE come from. That’s what Christianity is meant to be about.

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