I’m going to talk about something today that will not be very popular with many people. This has to do with the religious veil that is pulled over many of our faces still to this day. A veil that Jesus himself brought down and that was torn in two, forever opening the door to the Father through Christ. I guess it’s appropriate that this is on my mind today on Ash Wednesday. This day is observed by many as the start of Lent, leading up to Easter. Even before I fully came into my faith, something never sat right with me about it all. Now that my eyes have been opened, I see it more clearly.
We have a serious religious problem across the Christian faith. I guess it’s bound to happen over a 2,000 year period as messages get skewed and people begin to prop themselves up through the creation of new religious practices. While Lent and Ash Wednesday are not referenced anywhere in Scripture, I don’t have an issue with people that want to observe this time. The problem lies in the motives of the heart. There are many people and I know many, that use the time leading up to Lent to indulge however they want. To live like hell and just whatever. Then Lent comes, they get the ashes on their forehead and then portray to be living a like a Christian for 40 days. Easter comes and goes and right back to life as usual. Living a life in Christ. Seeking holiness and sanctification is not for only 40 day out of the 365 days we have each year. This is meant to be a 24/7 365 life. People think that this time can make up for the rest of their crazy living. Doesn’t work that way.
In his book, ‘Beautiful Outlaw,’ John Eldredge speaks to the religious fog and how Jesus himself was very much anti-religious. That’s who he went after directly more times than not through the Gospels. John says this, “The religious fog uses sanctified worlds and activities, things that look and sound very Sunday school to distort our perception of God and our experience of Him. It is cunning as a snake and adaptive as the flu, infiltrating our practices to make them ever so false.” Read the Gospels and as John stated, there is one thing that is unmistakably clear…religion is the enemy. “Every hostile encounter Jesus has is with very “churchy” people. This spirit is the great enemy of our life with God, and it is this spirit that Jesus warned his boys about when they were whispering in the boat about the bread” (See Matthew 16:6-12).
Religion is a major problem that we to contend with. Religion is built by man on rules and regulation that continually build up larger walls between man and God. Jesus tore those walls down. Our salvation, our freedom, our restoration, our eternity lies with Him and Him alone. Not in religious practices and rituals. We are to be disciplined spiritually through prayer, studying and learning Scripture, and so on, but getting caught up in religious discipline and practices can be a real problem and can begin to pull you away from the heart of God. Following Jesus does not require the burden of religion. Matthew 11:29-30, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Why do we forget this? There is a cost to following Christ as it will pull you away from many around you, even if you are close them them, if they do not follow as well. However, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Jesus did not put up more religious walls to shield us from God. No…He opened the door. The goal of living a life in Christ is to live as Christ lived. Not to follow every little thing that He may did, specifically, but to follow His example. In ‘The Spirit of the Disciplines,’ Dallas Willard explained it this way, “The secret of the easy yoke is simple, actually. It is the intelligent, informed, unyielding resolve to live as Jesus lived in all aspects of life, not just in the moment of specific choice or action.”
I have grown to become very much against religion. Actually, I hate religion. It is the enemies ploy to skew the message and the Good News to pull us away from the heart of God and truly living our lives in Christ. Christ is the example, not the pompous religious pharisees of today that prance around with so much pomp and circumstance just as the pharisees and religious leaders in Jesus’ time did. Christ challenged them directly and fiercely. We should not let our lives fall into their trap again. Clear the religious fog and live in the freedom and restoration found in Christ alone and is directly available to each and everyone of us.
No religious ritual can ever make one’s heart right with God. That only comes through the grace and spiritual blessings of the Father through the works (life, death, resurrection, and ascension) of Christ Jesus. Religion keeps you in chains and bondage behind a veil. Jesus tears down the veil, breaks those chains, and sets you free.
Beautifully said James! It’s exactly how I feel and more.
Not only has the practice of religion become repetitive, it allows an open door for the enemy to stronghold us. It’s as you say so well, not at all what Jesus did or what He wanted for us. Jesus walked the earth preaching His good news. He moved from place to place. Can you imagine the “stuff” He would have needed to pack and unpack if He were to have practiced religion the way we do today. Think of the tools used today in the churches. Oh my and all the “stuff” needed for the music, the great bands in the church.
Oh my, God help us…we’re way too comfortable and way to repetitive!!! Worshiping must be spontaneous and Holy Spirit led for us to find Jesus in the message.
Maybe I’m off the subject here of your point. I guess I’m feeling a bit literal.
Thanks for the reply! You’re right on point. The repetition is a big part of it. The spontaneity of real worship and walking with God is lost when we do the rituals out of obligation versus out of a pure desire to seek the heart of God and restoration in Christ.
I’m sorry Richard…please forgive me, I didn’t realize you wrote this post. I need to pay better attention.
It’ a great example and at the heart of the problem. Thank you for your words of wisdom.
Blessings to you,
No worries at all! Thanks Vicki. God bless!
Rituals and repetition — customs and traditions — Church history over riding the truth and revelation of our Savior, YaHshua. I like and appreciate the message you have here, thanks for being one of the few that see this. Many Christian leaders complain about what they call “Legalism” and then bind up those in the Churches to their own form of doctrinal chains, taking many captive to another Christ, in a different or another name.
Some see the simplicity that is in the Christ, some do not. For all that call on His Name will be saved. The Work of the Living God is just too easy for some, especially when it come to religions an those of other religions.
(John 6:29) YaHshua answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom He has sent.
Many quote John 3:16 but fail to read on down to verse 18 —
(John 3:18) He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the NAME of the only begotten Son of God.
Of course, the Fog of Religion makes this hard to see — Peace, Dan