Monday, April 18, 2011

Dead Religion vs. Life

A lot of people spend a lot of time talking about religious themes- and a host of others avoid them like the plague. Like politics, whether or not we participate in religion, it will eventually affect our lives. The truth is this: there are politicians that are elected and vote for laws which affect us, whether or not we ever give them a thought. In the same way, the principals of the Kingdom of God are at work as are the laws of physics.

Kingdom principals will continue to operate for eternity.

So why is it that folks get all wound up about religion? Here's my take. Because they try to understand God with their mind, while their emotions maybe saying something else. Even the most mature Christians step off into intellectual endeavors trying to make a case for a biblical world-view. The living God, however; is not going to be understood by the human mind. Memorizing Bible passages, attending a Sunday service, and spouting scripture does not, in itself, make us a Christian.

There is an amazing story in John chapter 4, and it is worth reading even if you are not a believer. Even if you hate Jesus, you should read it. Jesus gets a bad rap when things go wrong with stupid, religious church people, and when humans have pain they do not understand - they blame it on a God they don't really know or understand. We hear it every a day. "a loving God would (or wouldn't) do fill in your favorite (or least favorite) Christian thingy.

The scene unfolds between Jesus and a Samaritan woman.

John 4:9 The Samaritan woman said to Him, How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan [and a] woman, for a drink?--For the Jews have nothing to do with the Samaritans--

10 Jesus answered her, If you had only known and had recognized God's gift and Who this is that is saying to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you living water.

Why is this amazing? Because Jesus (assuming that He was God) was talking to her about the prejudice the Jews had against the Samaritans. Notice He didn't' say, "let's be tolerant of each other and all get along." He simply pointed out her error. "If you had only known and recognized God's gift" (Him!!), then you would have known life. He didn't say, "Hey, let's go to church and get on a kneeler and have communion." Or, "Are you saved?" Or maybe "dude-ette, let's read the Word together and pray." He simply said, "If you knew me, you'd have life." Do you see? There is no debate. You either know the living God, or you don't. You can't debate God. Again, you know Him, or you don't; pick one. One might debate how you know that you know Him, but not that you know Him-- umm, if you do.

I mean if Muslims don't pray facing Mecca, are they hypocrites? If a Satanist stops for someone in a crosswalk without running their butt over, are they a hypocrite? If a Christian Scientist takes an aspirin, are they going to hell? Religion is killer. Religion is a list of rules, laws and practices that people cannot endure, and can never adhere to perfectly. That is why we get the principal of "good." It's like a doctrine for religious folks and atheists trying to minimize their sin. Look, quite simply no one is perfectly good no matter what religion you look at. If you look closely at the common denominators in religion, everyone is trying to find purpose in life, as well as make sense of an afterlife. Biblically speaking, if your faith does not produce good works with a selfless motive, you need to examine your faith.

Back to the story. Our little girlfriend at the well doesn't get it. She goes on the religious bent one more time.

John 4:12 Are You greater than and superior to our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and who used to drink from it himself, and his sons and his cattle also?

Jesus stops her and again speaks life.

John 4:13 Jesus answered her, All who drink of this water will be thirsty again.

Even after Jesus tells her exactly what the living water is, and who He is, she is like "What church do you go to?" You see, that is the problem with religion! She should have known that Jesus was the Church, and by choosing life, she too could be the church!

In the end Jesus convinces her not with words, but with supernatural power. By the way, there is not another religion on earth that contains the love of God as it expresses itself in the supernatural! Not one. The living God still listens and and talks to those that know Him. Jesus still performs miracles, provides revelation and heals sick bodies just to name a few of his supernatural capabilities.

Amazingly, the woman goes back to some more religiousness; she just can't help herself. This sinner begins to talk about the Messiah to come. Jesus is so cool. Verse 26 Jesus said to her, I Who now speak with you am He.

I don't know about you, but after He told me nearly every major event of my life, I'd be wanting to know more too. How about you? Do you want to know more? Are you tired of religious people being judgmental and hypocritical? The living God, Jesus, He is out there waiting for you to call on His name. How do you know you've met Him? You can feel it - you can tell, and the Holy Spirit will assure you of it! I can't imagine having a relationship with someone that is just another character from the story book Bible? Honestly, isn't that a little religious?

How about you, do you suffer from religion?


Charlie Chang said...

This is probably my favorite story second to the conversation with Nicodemus.

Thanks for pointing out some things I didn't notice before.

Tony C said...

How correct you are to state religion affects us it or not.

I used to chuckle at the 'Jesus called, and He wants His religion back' bumper stickers. Today I understand Jesus never had a religion, man created that marvelous institution.

Arny said...

Right on David! The Apostle Peter and Paul tried despreately to seperate the two!!! During that famous meeting about circumsicion to be saved or not! Man is always setting a price on what is free!!!

David-FireAndGrace said...

@Charlie - thanks for reading along. After you get to be my age, you need to try to find more in the stories!

@Tony - yeah, religion is tough on us for sure.

@Arny - I know, it is so hard to separate doing stuff that looks religious from actually knowing Jesus.

Thanks, gang for reading along!

photogr said...

The main theme that I sse from the scriptures, is that it was prophesized hundreds of years before Jesus took on a human form.

Then after he started his mission, people still failed to see who he was. Even the pahrasees wanted Him dead because he up set their apple cart.

I only fear at His return that there will be doubting and the failure to realize who He actually is.

A.Marie said...

"Religion is killer. Religion is a list of rules, laws and practices that people cannot endure, and can never adhere to perfectly. That is why we get the principal of "good."

I couldn't have said it better myself!!! :)

I found you when I was over at Taber's Truths. I love your blog posts and am going back to read some more!

David-FireAndGrace said...

@A. Marie - well, welcome and thanks for reading along!

Do you have a link for Taber's Truth, I think I owe them a visit! said...

Great post! Your contrasts between religion and a Spirit led relationship are great. Also pointing out that Jesus didn't give her any options or silly invitations but just gave her Truth was profound. We all need to speak more truth...but I think you're right when we do speak truth people usually ask what church we go to.

Charlie's Church of Christ said...

oh David you know I suffer from religion bad. It keeps coming up. I thought I had it tamed and then somehow it pops up to say "HEY!" like an annoying neighbor who has a knack for inopportune times.

David-FireAndGrace said...

@Carla - thanks for reading along!

@Charlie - yep, you got it bad. ;)

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