Loving Jesus vs Hating Religion

January 13, 2012

The I Love Jesus, but Hate Religion video that went viral this past week was posted and reposted by several of my Facebook friends. There surely had to be something wrong with me then when I watched the other evening and then sat in a quiet room puzzled.

I agreed with some of it but the majority of the statements bothered me. Why was I so offended by a video that was making such a powerful impression on so many? I watched again and still couldn’t grasp the feelings it radiated.

It took some reasoning before it dawned on me- Jesus is not only my Savior, He is my religion. He is the reason I do what I do and what I don’t.

He’s the One who gave His life for a lost world to be able to come together in one place-in Him. He rescued us. Not because we were good enough or had something to offer but because He loved and still loves.

How can I separate the One who died for me from the way of life I should be living in response to His life and death? I can’t. It’s impossible.

Jesus came here to change the world and He will do that by the religion that He left, Christianity. You can’t take Christ out of Christianity. Yes, some have tried. Sadly, there are those who have twisted His teachings to satisfy worldly desires and have done great harm.

Yet, there are others who love Jesus whole heartedly and still daily fail to follow as we should. He knows it and He offers forgiveness. But I want you to hear what one follower once said, “Don’t judge Christ by those of us who so imperfectly wear His name. “

Young people,

I’m glad the video touched a nerve with you. I appreciate the fact that you want to change the world and I completely believe that through Christ, you can. However, please don’t ever think that the church that Jesus established is not worth His blood or your time.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that religion cannot do great things.

Never forget that there is a monumental difference between worldly religions instituted by man and the religion that Christ began. One thrives on intimidation and hypocrisy; the other on love and grace.

Christ built His church, not with bricks and stones, but in the hearts and lives of average, everyday people like you and me. People who stumble, fall, and sometimes act like idiots. Imperfect people who don’t have all the answers but follow the One who does.

Don’t buy into the teaching that you can have Christ without His church and feel free to be highly offended when someone wants to offer you such.

Older friends,

We have got to stop acting like we have it all together. It’s time to take off our masks and let others see that we are fallible and striving. The church isn’t a club that sets guidelines to manipulate and regulate other Christians. As said in the video, it is a hospital for the broken. Let’s not be afraid of that statement but willing to reach out to others to show that our lives aren’t perfect but we love the One who is regardless of what we go through. Don’t follow Him because you’re afraid of Hell or because your parents or family expect you to. Follow Him because you love Him.

Let’s face it; we are the reason that young people look for their salvation in the world. We’re too busy to take the time to spend with them. We preach one message and live another. We’re pew warmers not world changers. Get serious. I challenge you; get involved in a young person’s life. Be their good example. In a world of heartache and sin, show them Jesus. You need them as much as they need you.

Christians,

Read the Bible. I know this sounds overtly simple but everything that God wants you to know is written plainly for you to see. Crack the book, you can know Jesus. You can know His will for your life but you can’t do it without Him, His Word, or His people. Don’t forget that the Devil wants to divide and conquer. Don’t give him the chance.

Christ is your Savior. He’s also your religion however, never forget that true religion ceases when it becomes routine and empty.

Live so that when others think of religion they think of righteousness, humility, love, truth, and Christ. No one ever said that this mission would be easy, just possible.

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8 Comments Add your own

  •    Daniel Dalp  |  January 13th, 2012 at 7:34 pm     Reply

    Well said Paula! I find it fascinating how younger and older individuals interpreted and saw the video in different lights. I wonder why that is? I appreciate your thoughts! Especially this, “Christ is your Savior. He’s also your religion however, never forget that true religion ceases when it becomes routine and empty.”

  •    Wes McAdams  |  January 13th, 2012 at 7:43 pm     Reply

    Excellent response to the video. Totally agree!

  •    dhahn  |  January 13th, 2012 at 8:37 pm     Reply

    Excellent words. I appreciate your candidness and your desire to seek and know God through his Truth.

    I would, however, add that it appears he is not proponent of leaving or even minimizing the church, rather better understanding it’s role. As he mentioned and as I would venture to guess you also agree, it’s not about more $ and bigger buildings, but about integrating it into our lives and leaving as a communal family of believers. Spiritual acts of worship. It’s wise to question the structure of the Church when it may be overlooking people or as he suggested, not letting some in (like Jesus), but he was seeking to repurpose the Church, the bride of Christ, to ensure it is modeling what Scripture calls it to be in him. Religion and the Church are not the same. Religion implies rules and regulations (which can be beneficial, but can also quickly turn into pharisaical legalism). You’re right that we cannot abandon the teachings set forth by Christ or the Church, our body of fellow believers, but we can abandon religion as the notion that by any means our works will purport salvation except as demonstrations of our own faith in the Christ who has given us his grace.

    Perhaps there are specific quotes that I missed that I’m misinterpreting that indeed are or should be disturbing, but as I see it when I stand his words up to God’s Word, it’s truthful. It seems likely that the word “religion” is the point of contention that, I believe through his use in his song as a demonstration suggests, you have perhaps misunderstood.

    One brother to another sibling in Christ. I appreciate your post. Truthful for sure. I think it’s consistent with the message in the video however. Thanks for allowing the long comment.

    May God’s truth be made known.

  •    Sterling  |  January 14th, 2012 at 7:18 am     Reply

    Replace “Religion” in his video with “Legalism” or “Pharisaic ritual” and let me know your thoughts. I think it’s clear that Jefferson meant this to be more of an evangelistic poem that is self-effacing enough to challenge the stereotypes and the stigma that those outside of faith hold about Christianity. Perhaps his word choice isn’t pristine or well enough defined connotatively, but his intent is clear in speaking against dry ritual and self-righteousness, especially in the last 90 seconds of the video. I watch and my response is to pray for those who are skeptical and ‘missing the point’ of Jesus.

  •    Stoned-Campbell Disciple  |  January 16th, 2012 at 10:58 pm     Reply

    Paula I really appreciate your post. There were and are many things in the video that are “true.” I was left at the end though that there was miscommunication in spite of the memorable poem composed. When Christ said “it is finished” the referent was not “religion” or the “Old Testament” as many in our own fellowship have imagined. His task in reversing the curse … the reason he was incarnate was accomplished.

    Now I agree with Sterling. If we substitute the words “legalism” or even “Phariseeism” then the poem makes more sense.

    But I think the real reason for misunderstanding is a failure to define his terms. What do we mean by “religion?” If we mean that Christianity is one of the historic world religions – a system of dogmas and beliefs and power structures – then religion it is in the historic sense.

    Yet biblically Christianity is more than and less than what we mean by the term “religion.” It is like Stephen Arterburn’ More Jesus Less Religion.

    Religion often becomes something quite foreign to what God intended in the Scriptures. I can think of no more brilliant critique than Dostoyevsky’ tale of the Grand Inquisitor in Brothers Karamazov.

    Beyond that I agree we cannot separate our love for Jesus from how we live and how worship.

    Thank you for your thoughtful response.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  •    Paula Harrington  |  January 17th, 2012 at 12:44 pm     Reply

    I agree that the words “legalism” or even “Pharisaic ritual” would be more suited for the poem. I’m sure Jeff is a great guy. I’ve read his response to the poem and he seems very humble. I know where he was trying to go with the poem however wording is important. What bothers me most is the fact that some will use this to blast the church. Even Jeff (on his facebook page) had to tell folks to stop putting the church down.

  •    Paula Harrington  |  January 17th, 2012 at 12:44 pm     Reply

    Thanks to all of you for your comments and for stopping by. God bless.

  •    Warren Baldwin  |  January 29th, 2012 at 8:29 pm     Reply

    Good comment on a stimulating video. We played it in my high school class and have discussed it for 2 weeks now. Great potential to help us rethink some important issues.

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