Did Jesus really hate religion? I guess it all depends on what you mean by your definition of “religion”. In the last week, a youtube video uploaded by Jefferson Bethke has gone viral. Viral….as in 13 million views… in one week! Ah…the power of social media. In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen this yet…watch this first.
Jefferson’s video immediately grew huge praise….and criticism. It drew praise from many who understood “religion” one way….and curses from those who understood it a different way. His words were definitely misinterpreted by many. However, he could have chosen better verbiage throughout this poem to truly communicate how he feels about true faith.
The first time I watched it..I understood what he was talking about. Jefferson is bashing the religion that promotes self righteousness, works salvation and takes the place of knowing God intimately. We’ve all been there and done that. I understood it from the angle of Jesus’ trashing the Pharisees religiosity of His day. Need a reminder of that? Read this –
There is no doubt in my mind that the “religion” of the pharisees is what Jesus wants done away with! The problem is that most people associate the word “religion” with prayer, bible study and going to church. So when somebody hears “Jesus came to abolish religion!”…they freak out. Jesus doesn’t want me to read my bible? Jesus doesn’t want me to go to church? Jesus doesn’t want me to pray? No..no…no! It’s impossible to celebrate our faith without observing the “religious” practices that Jesus himself instituted. Jesus prayed. Jesus knew the scripture. Jesus taught and worshipped in the synagouge. Jesus was religous. However…you never see Jesus insert what he does “for” God the Father with his relationship “with” God the Father.
That’s the problem I have with religion. It’s when people think they are ok…based upon what they do for God. Our religious practices (prayer, bible reading, church attendance, feeding the poor, taking care of orphans & widows etc.) propel us forward in our relationship with God. However…they are never a substitute. Salavation is based upon the Grace of God alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross!
Does Jesus hate religion? It all depends on how you define it.