Friday, July 6, 2012
Thoughts from "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus"
The video that launched a million views and responses.
I wonder why so many Christians find this difficult to comprehend. Why do so many not like it? If it is preference or style: I understand. I don't much care for contemporary country music. I don't like the style. If there was a worship song written that was doctrinally sound, but in the contemporary country style, I may not care for it much. Is that the issue with most though? The medium, not the message?
I worry that too many Christians actually fail to see themselves as sinful because they pursue the Law with all the heart, mind, and spirit. It is easy to cheer Jesus on when He is going after child molestors and kidnappers. But many of those same people would take issue with Him firing away at good people, full of self-righteousness. Jesus hates good people. So much so He died for their "goodness." Bad people did not kill Jesus. "Good" people did. Good people do not repent and do not want grace because they are so rarely told they need either of them. They don't want a hand out, they want a hand up.
Religion is good people trying to get better. Religion relies on good advice and despises the Good News.
I can see where the language and semantics of what is said in this video could be disliked. Like all things true and poignant, they are capable of being distorted. Like all things true and powerful, they can offend or set free.
The Gospel is a message of grace and if preached properly ends in the response of "What shall we say then? Shall we sin that grace may abound?" If people are not provoked to think or speak those sentiments, the Gospel has not been preached in its fullness.
I also hate religion. It kept me in bondage to self-righteousness and a vascillating cycle of pride and despair for years. Pride when I did what I knew I should. Despair when I fell short. "No fear, I will try harder next time". I would aim high and fall short. I was proud of my accomplishments and ashamed of my failures. I knew God would love me if I could do it better next time because there were always periods of failure. I would try my hardest. I still could not do it. But I believed that my trying my hardest is what made me lovable. I would fail and in despair not try at all. In fact, I would fall like a champ. Like I loved it. My only comfort was knowing that I would at some point regain the guilt enough to stop falling and begin trying to stand all over again, but this time I would try even harder, stand longer, and not fall again. And so on and so forth and so on for the majority of my life. That is why I hate religion. I hate it and I hate who I was when I was in it and I hate that I was so hard in hearing and so long in seeing that it was not about me and my righteousness, but only that which could be given me by grace in Christ's work.
I was right about one thing: Work is required to earn God's favor. I was wrong to assume I could earn it.
Jesus acccomplished my righteousness in a perfect life and paid in full my debt by a sinless death. He lives as my priest before God, behind the veil, ministering and pleading a case for me, going where I could not go, earning what I could not earn, giving what I did not have, grasping what I could not reach; not because of me or what I had done (good or bad), but on the appeal of His merit before God. My hope is not my religion or my righteousness, but my God.