Religion is dangerous. Sounds strange coming from a guy who co-leads a church, right? But I’ve been around the block enough to have seen the immense damage religion can do. Religion isn’t what God is about. Religion is a spirit – a strong one – and it keeps people in bondage to a system, a structure, a culture instead of modeling a real, tangible, personal connection with God.
Religion is oppressive power cloaked in spirituality. It’s stealth. Religious people pray, read and reference their Bibles, and talk about God-things. They hide behind pious imagery and position, but they reproduce death.
In Jesus day, the priests and teachers would stand in the synagogues and quote the prophetic scriptures about the Messiah coming to earth. They longed for Him. They prayed for Him. But when Jesus literally walked into the room they hated Him. Hated.
Jesus came to bypass their system. God incarnate, walking among us, connecting with us in a personal way. The religious system lost its monopoly, it’s power threatened. And given the choice between finding the eternal fulfillment of all their internal longings or maintaining their religious system and power, they violently chose their structure and their culture over real life. Religion always brings death. Just ask Jesus.
The problem? Religion is still on the loose today. It’s rampant in nice churches, in classy spiritual leaders, in unsuspecting Christians. It hides in the dark corners, waiting to war for it’s systems and cultures and destroy any hint of real life whenever it emerges. Can you identify it?
Religion is oppressive. Jesus is freedom. Religion is about control. Jesus is about empowerment. Religion condenses serving God into a set of behaviors. Jesus interacts with our lives in a real and intimate way. Religion preserves itself at all costs. Jesus gives His life away freely.
Which would you rather have?