It is my desire to get the people of God thinking and not just following behind a Pied Piper of religious jargon and the traditions of men. For too long people in the name of 'Christianity' and 'church' have been led astray into the vast and dense wilderness of false religion and fake righteousness weighed down by the yoke of a distorted Christianity. Men and women who truly love Jesus have been mislead and have either been enslaved in it's tight stranglehold or have been discouraged and fallen from the faith. It's time for the sleeping giant to awaken and see what has taken place all in the name of our Savior! Jesus came to set us free and it seems that the very people whom He has set free has succombed to chains again. These chains though are shiny and pretty and attractive. They are called by many names today - 'Christian', 'Church', 'Baptist', 'Methodist', 'Catholic', etc.,.
May God give us understanding and sound wisdom to see and hear what He is saying to His people today!
by Wayne Jacobsen
Trading the Vibrant Life of Jesus for a Ritualistic Religion Called Christianity.
When the early believers were first called Christians, we don't know if it was a complement or a mockery. We do know that they didn't invent the term for themselves. The culture called them "little christs" because they had found so much identity in following Jesus. Whatever spawned the term, those early believers adopted it for themselves and for 2,000 years it has been the dominant identifier for those who claim to follow Christ. But that might be changing.
In a few short years those realities have diverged significantly. Perhaps there has not been a time since the Middle Ages, where what it means to be a good Christian and what it means to thrive in a relationship with God, couldn't be more at odds. You can do everything required of a 'good Christian' in our day and still miss out on what it means to know him and be involved in a meaningful relationship with him that transforms you to love as he loved.
How many people endure repetitive rituals certain that doing so endears them to God? How many embrace a slate of ethical rules or doctrinal propositions thinking that doing so ensures God's blessings? Jesus offered us a vibrant life of relationship with his Father, and we ended up creating a religion that often disarms that very Gospel of its glory.
- When God is a distant concept to you instead of a real presence.
- When you find yourself following another man, woman, or a set of principles instead of following Jesus.
- When fear of eternity, not measuring up, or falling into error drives your actions.
- When you find yourself in empty rituals that do not connect you in a real way to him.
- When you are burdened by the expectations of others and feel guilty when you can't do enough.
- When you look at others who struggle with contempt instead of compassion.
- When the approval of others means more to you than remaining in the reality of his love.
- When you hesitate to be honest about your doubts or struggles because others will judge you.
- When you think of holiness as an unachievable duty, rather than aglorious invitation.
- When you think righteousness depends on your efforts instead of his grace working in you.
- When following him is more about obligation than affection.
- When correcting someone's doctrine is more important than loving them.
- When God seems more present on Sunday morning, than he does on Monday.
Living the Gospel means we live in his love. We come to know the Father's love for us and then sharing that love with him, and with others he puts in our path. (John 13:34-35). No other motive will suffice; no other is necessary. This is where the journey begins and this is the only place it can continue.
Returning to our first love isn't as difficult as we like to make it. For me it just means finding a quiet place and talking to God. When you find yourself caught in religion, tell him you're tired of chasing a religion that isn't working and you want to know him as he really is. Then, wake up each day with a similar prayer on your heart. Watch how he makes himself known to you in the simple reality of living each day. Follow the nudges he puts on your heart instead of the obligations and rituals. Find others who are on this journey and find ways to share the reality of a growing relationship and help guard our hearts about following into empty religious practices.
If you've been steeped in religion for a long time, you'll find yourself going through a very disorienting time. One woman I met called it a Pharisectomy, which is simply having your inner Pharisee removed. You might feel guilty, lonely, lost, or fearful in the process. Your former religious friends may feel threatened that you're no longer doing the things they do. But in time you'll find yourself sliding into the reality of relationship with him that is as increasingly real, transformative and engaging.
Among It, Not of It
Live among religion if he asks you to, loving toward those mired in it but you never have to be of it. The Gospel opens the door for us to re-engage the transcendent God, to know him as our Abba and to walk with him through the twists and turns of life, sharing his affection with others.
Live in the reality of that relationship and you'll find it quite naturally finding expression through you as you love and treat others the same way God treats you. People who refuse to live to fear, conform to ritual or put doctrine above love will find themselves having ample opportunity to help others on this journey as well. A dear friend wrote me recently who was feeling a bit swamped by all the people seeking out his help these days, "You didn't say anything about being safe is like hanging up a "counseling available" shingle."
We live in a great day. The emptiness of tradition is being seen for what it is and people are hungering for the reality of relationship. Live there each day and there's no telling where that will take you or who you'll end up walking alongside as Jesus becomes your life.
Then you can live free, not just for a few days or even three months. He came to set you free eternally!