…by Larry McManus
No doubt you have heard that, “There are two things you don’t talk about: religion and politics.”
“RELIGION”. What comes to mind when you hear the word? Does it have anything to do with love, community, relationship, or grace? More importantly, what does Jesus think of “religion”?
As I looked into New Testament today, the word “religion” does not show up in any of Jesus’ talks, not even once, so it appears that Jesus was not about the business of building a new religion. As we heard in the sermon, Jesus viewed the religious activity of the Pharisees to be a hindrance and a barrier to encountering God. Religion was about doing the opposite of the don’ts, and being against the things that were deemed “bad”. This negative perspective on religion hasn’t changed much over the past 2010 years.
Neither is the church an “institution” or a “business”. Sure there are some basic elements of business organization within the practical function of a local church, but are we just another religion or business? How sad when we, within the church, adopt the worldly misconceptions that we are just an institution or another religion among many viable religions.
We learned in the sermon this week that religious attitudes can be a barrier to encountering God. Jesus was about building a movement that encouraged true encounters with the living God. He doesn’t care about a system of rules and regulations that bind us.
So what are the take-a-ways? I’m examining my own attitudes about religion and how I view the world. I refuse to be defined by the “anti’s”– we don’t do this, we don’t like that, we’re against this or that. The next step is to begin to make amends with those I may have offended with my pious “religious” attitudes. It’s easy to be judgmental; the world does it all the time. Jesus said, “For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” John 12:47