People are either fawning or retching over the viral video about hating religion but loving Jesus. Some of the latter class are responding to it. Jesus hated any religion that kept man from God, even religion that wore the mantle of God’s own brand. The word religion has gained a negative connotation that equates it with mindless ritual, abusive authority, out-of-touch irrelevance. We’ve written on the word before.
• The video reflects and feeds the postmodernist mindset. But Christians should never defend religion, as such. As people who proclaim that restoration is needed, perhaps this serves as a good platform to join the critics of religion and call to follow the Way which Jesus opened for us.
• The current hullabaloo reminds us that Paul condemned the resistant Jews of his day, not only because they refused the will of God themselves, but “because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved” (1 Thessalonians 2:16 NET). Man-made religion serves Satan’s purpose in the same way today.
• Let’s be clear: there is only one God-approved religion, if you want to use the word religion at all. Though there are so many better terms for it, rather than the generic word which leaves a bad taste in mouths everywhere. Call it the Way (now that will leave a bad taste in some), the faith, the gospel of peace, the true grace of God.
• And in all this we must never forget the ultimate aim of the Way: to restore man to God’s presence. As Peter styled it, “to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18 ESV). For this Christ suffered, died, and rose again. Salvation, a concept we use often, but may not fully appreciate, is not only from sin, but for God.
• Yesterday morning, our good brother Adauri preached from John 14. There, too, the movement of all celestial activity is toward God’s presence with man. Jesus prepares us a place “that where I am you may be also” (verses 1-3). Presence. Together. The way-truth-life Savior states the goal: “No one comes to the Father except through me” (verse 6). A person goes to the Father (or, from his perspective, comes to him) for his presence. Fellowship. Together.
• With those two verses, another in John 14 is no less amazing, when our Lord says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (verse 23). Nothing temporary. Permanent. Together. It doesn’t get any better than that. Just think, a religion does that.
• But not just any religion. Only one religion. My postmodernist, emerging-church, and progressive friends forgive me, but if you don’t get this right, you miss the boat, and there’ll not be another. Unlike the video, this message won’t go viral, but it will go eternal. That’s why John calls it the “eternal gospel” (Revelation 14:6).