In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Can our relgion get in the way of people coming to God?

Or, more to the point, does my "religion" get in the way of people coming to God? Some things the pastor said during his sermon this morning got me to thinking about this question.

When Jesus was on this earth He was frequently encouraging, loving, and healing people. But there are a few times we see Him angry in the gospels, and these always involve religious people.

There's the account in Mark 11:15-18 where He turned over the tables of the people in the temple who were changing money and selling Doves for sacrifices. He asked them why they'd made His house a den of thieves when He wanted it to be a place of prayer for the nations. Jesus' heart was that He wanted His followers to be in prayer for the nations and instead they'd turned seeking God into a money making enterprise.

There's also the account in Mark 3:1-7 where one Sabbath Jesus is in the synagogue and a man with a shriveled hand was there. The Pharisees were watching to see if Jesus would break the religious laws by "working" on the Sabbath by healing the man. Jesus became very angry at their stubborn hearts. It's easy for me to be blown away at the Pharisees, to think that God in the flesh was right there with them, wanting to bring restoration and healing, and they were upset because he wasn't following the laws of their religion that were supposedly to follow after God. It's easy for me to think how this just doesn't make sense!

But what about me? Are there ways that I have inadvertently become steeped in religion to the point where I don't see what God wants? Am I missing out on being an agent of love, restoration, or healing into the lives of others around me because I'm too caught up in my own agenda?

These aren't questions that I can just answer. Instead, today I'm praying, and will be for the next few days, that the Holy Spirit would help me become sensitive and aware. That He would show me if my "religion" is displeasing to Him.

Have you ever had a time in your life when God showed you that you were more caught up in the trappings of religion than in pursing Him and loving others?

11 comments:

RCUBEs said...

That's my prayer, too sister Tracy that I don't get caught in legalism. Jesus already had paid the price...I pray that I see things through His eyes not mine. Look around us and see and hear many who view Christian believers as hypocrites. But it's not God Who changed but people. Blessings to you and have a great week.

Ginx said...

Here's a thought: why do all the people who oppose socialized medicine also claim to follow a guy who healed people for free?

photogr said...

Tracy:

It should not be about religion but about faith and following what Jesus says. One of the reasons I have a hard time fitting in with organized religious denominations. Too much boxing in.

Andrea said...

Praying with you,
andrea

Victor S E Moubarak said...

This is a great post - good point well made.

Thank you Tracy.

God bless.

John Cowart said...

Hi Tracy,

Several years ago, I got a phone call from someone asking me to conduct a funeral.

I had never conducted a funeral before and since I am not a professional Christian, I suggested they have a clergyman do it.

It seems members of the large family belonged to two very different religious traditions. They could not agree on what kind of clergyman--so they chose to ask me, a layman, to conduct the lady's funeral.

The caller explained, "We know you go to church and all that, but you don't seem to be very religious".

That was one of the nicest compliments I've ever got.

David-FireAndGrace said...

Well it seems insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Religion is doing the same thing over and over expecting the same results. Neither is productive.

Now certainly there are "church" things that we can do on a regular basis that is probably not going to hurt - or will they? Let's say we pray everyday at 7 AM for 5 or 10 minutes and then read a few chapters of the Bible and Psalm. We go to Bible study to get fed and have fellowship on Wednesday, and attend a full blown service on Sunday morning. Most Christians would think that was pretty good.

Imagine if Tiger Woods only practiced putting, and never his drives or chips etc. Imagine if we only ate pasta, bread and red wine every day?

The point is this. A good putter can make or break a golfer who can also drive and chip. If we at the high-carb diet it is likely that we would eventually get sick from a lack of vitamin C and protein.

When we are religious - just doing what we know how to do, being legalistic, going through the motions, it is easy to become a Pharisee - to act Pentecostal, Catholic or Evangelical. If you can tell what denomination a person attends within a few minutes of meeting them, that could be a sign.

We need to be led of the Spirit doing what we see the Father doing. Some days Jesus prayed, others he fed the poor, others He taught in the synagogue, and others he healed, cast out demons, attended weddings and hung out with sinners. Some days he did all of the above.

He never held a regular meeting, or even a crusade. He ebbed and flowed with the Creator whatever that might be. Certainly He was sick of the mockery that Judaism had become in His time.

And we are to do the same.

Next time you don’t think you are that religious, grab up a little dirt and spit in it before praying for the sick. Maybe look around htat church and find someone that needs a demon cast out. Or find a teenager of a single mom and invest some time on them.

Let's stop going to church and start being the church with love and power.

The Kingdom should be visible, and the church invisible.

Michelle said...

I believe we can all get caught up in "religion" at times. It's the same mistakes the church of Galatia was making when they fell away from the grace and went back to the law.

The thing that stuck out to me about this post is this though...the title is "can our religion get in the way of people coming to God?" The great news is "No!" Even in the stories you cited, they couldn't. God will manifest Himself despite our "religiosity." The Pharisees and the scribes never prevented Christ from revealing Himself, His purpose, and His work.

It just turns out our "religion" becomes part of our ever need for Christ and His grace. I know I'm finding a hard time finding the boundary between sanctification and legalism.

David-FireAndGrace said...

Thanks Michelle for reminding me to answer the question.

Yes! If the Pharisees could lead people astray, and there is supposed to be an apostosy in the End Times with a great falling away - then yes. When love grows cold it all just becomes religion.

photogr said...

Could it be religion sanctifies legalism views and faith sanctifies divinity in Christ?

What do I know? I am just a Christ follower.

JD Curtis said...

Here's a thought: why do all the people who oppose socialized medicine also claim to follow a guy who healed people for free?

Here's a thought.

Ginx, why don't you explain how socialized medicine=free? Doesnt someone have to pay for it?

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