Does this sound like a contradiction?
By reading the Gospels one can easily see that Jesus wasn’t too thrilled with the way in which the teachers and enforcers of God’s Word performed their duties—They had become very religious.
Those religious leaders were the caregivers over Jesus’ Fathers’ house. They were in His house as sons, but they didn’t know the homeowner. They could recite large amounts of Scripture, but they didn’t know the writer of the Book. Because of this disconnect with God, they misrepresented Him and used His Word as an iron fist over the people.
Jesus said, woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone, Luke 11:42.
Like the Pharisees, religious people tend to follow the Word without showing justice or the love of God, and they tend to over emphasize the avoidance of sin versus walking with God in mutual relationship.
Another reason I dislike religion is because worldly principles of acceptance exist in its cryptic background. You give to get. You work to earn. Promotion is based upon performance. Those who do not perform well are rejected. The really messed up people are ostracized. The beautiful people are those with money and great achievements.
It would seem like we should work really hard to be good so that God will accept us. But His economy doesn’t function the way we often think it should. He invites us to Himself through the sacrificial gift of His Son. We are forgiven based on what His Son did and our acceptance of that gift. The same grace that’s available to someone devout, such as Mother Teresa, He also offers to those who break every one of His commandments. He didn’t come to condemn, but to save.
Our behavior matters and keeping His commandments is important, in fact it’s one of the demonstrations of our faith, but He loves us because that is Who He is.
On occasion, people have replied to something that I’ve said by telling me that they aren’t very religious. I’ve given a hearty hallelujah to their confession before explaining that God doesn’t invite them to a religion, but into a relationship with Himself through Jesus who is the bridge between us and God.
The way has been made for anyone to know God. The gift is being offered–accepting His gift is up to each of us.
I’ll close with my opening statements. I really don’t like religion, but I love God and my Savior Jesus.
Growing in relationship with them is the foundation of my life.