Not religious

Jesus is Not Religious

Religion has become the new evil of our age. Especially organised religion. Everywhere we look, it’s been the cause of some awful human tragedies. Religion fuels terrorism for Islamic extremists. Religion fueled ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland for decades between Catholics and Protestants, with atrocities on both sides. And where has child abuse occurred? In churches!

Organised religion seems to be the worst. If you join a particular religion, you’re told what to believe and how to behave. Religion always seems behind the times – no consideration for science or technology or 21st century knowledge. Instead religious leaders still wear strange robes and collars and weird hats that were designed centuries ago. Followers are told to believe in miracles and the supernatural – not science or fact.

Such religion is not good. And Jesus would agree.

Surprising, isn’t it? Jesus was even more scathing of many religious people in his day than we are. He saved his strongest criticisms for religious leaders, calling them “hypocrites,” “white-washed tombs,” “snakes” and “vipers” (Matthew 23).

According to Jesus, they were so caught up in religious rituals, in following rules and traditions, that they missed the point – they had no relationship with God at all. They might look good and spiritual on the outside, but inside they were just as bad as anyone else – if not worse… Worse because they looked down on everyone else… Worse because they made it hard for people to know the true God.

Jesus radically undermined the religious thinking of his day. And his teaching radically undermines what most people think about religion today. When discussing whether it was important to worship God with certain rituals or in special religious buildings, Jesus said this:

“… a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father [God] in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23, NIV)

There is a God, says Jesus, the one true God.

But we can’t please him with religious rituals.

God seeks a real relationship with people, one based on truth, not appearances & ritual.

Every other religion is about what WE DO to reach God – that our actions get us right with God.

But Jesus taught something radically different – that the true God has DONE everything we need to have right relationship with God, through Jesus. What matters is that we know the true God through Jesus – they are the type of people God is seeking.

Jesus also said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to [God] the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)

If we want to know the true God, if we want to be rid of the terrible burden of religion, then Jesus claims to be the only way to that God.

Religion is not good. And Jesus offers us something far better.

Nigel Webb is the Minister at Denham Court Anglican Church.

Nigel Webb