Friday, January 13, 2012

Is Jesus Anti-Religion?

I'm not one who likes to argue or get things started. However, I do feel the need to caution people with terminology, especially as it relates to this video and several other preachers, articles, and videos with similar sayings.

There is much in this video that I applaud, and the heart certainly seems to be sincere. I am grateful for this brother's salvation and his desire to use his gift (which, by the way, I do not possess but wouldn't mind if I did!) to spread the good news of hope in Christ.

However, I am concerned about what is said in this video. Words matter. Words matter a lot. What you say affects others. I learn this often when I say something while preaching, but later realize I hadn't said it the right way or said it in a way that misled. Is God still able to use my preaching, or this video? Yes. And praise be to God that He can.

Just to be clear about one more thing, this video is simply the latest that is making the rounds. I've heard preachers, read posts, heard comments, had conversations, and more where the same kind of thinking is portrayed. And to be clear, often times these are from people whom I love and respect in thousands of ways. With that being said, Jesus doesn't hate religion. Jesus isn't anti-religion. Jesus is certainly against self-righteousness and man-made religion, but that isn't all religion. We know this because in James 1:27 we learn of the 'religion' that pleases God the Father.

I do applaud this video (and the other things I've pointed out) for the stance against what is often seen in the church today as religion. There are certainly hypocrites everywhere in the church. There are certainly legalist throughout the church. And there are certainly those who make it quite easy to hate what is perceived as religion. Nevertheless, religion isn't against Jesus, nor is Jesus against religion.

The Bible clearly shows us that there is a set of expectations and practices that Christians are to be about. For instance, we know the early church was committed to the apostle's teaching (Acts 2:42). Paul told Timothy to devote himself to the reading and explaining of God's Word (First Timothy 4:13). Even Jesus said if you love Him you will keep His commandments (John 14:15). This, though very brief, shows us that there is a set of rules or expectations that the Bible has for believers. Again, Jesus isn't against religion, but against self-righteousness that makes up many religious people today.

Bottom line is this, Jesus possesses all righteousness and freely gives this to all who repent of their sins (even and especially self-righteousness) and trusts in His perfect obedience alone for his or her salvation. Would you repent and trust in Christ? Would you then join a local church and help redeem the word religion by seeking to obey Christ with other brothers and sisters?


Anonymous said...

Bethke has done well to accept criticism with grace and I think he would likely agree with most or all of what you've written here. I certainly appreciate what you said and agree with it wholeheartedly. Love you, brother, and we miss you in NC.

Pastor Randy said...

I have been very impressed with the way he has handled the criticism from his video. I do think it ought to be noted that in the description on youtube he said it was about "false" religion. Unfortunately the video didn't say that (though I understood what he was implying). I am glad to call him my brother. AND, I'm glad to call you my brother.