IT AIN’T NO “…ISM”

Boy, I raised more than a few eyebrows in my Adult Sunday School Class (Sunday University at One Church Scottsdale) when I announced, “You can’t be a Christian and NOT hate Religion!” Before the tongue lashing could begin I hastily explained myself and made it out almost unscathed! I thought perhaps this should be shared with even more people than just those in my class, so here goes.

Let’s start with the fact that an acceptable definition of “Christian” is “Christ-Like.” Next, let’s look at an acceptable definition of Religion: “The rules and regulations that guide one’s pursuit of his or her god.” It is this definition that explains why Christ hated religion. We know this is true because of His constant confrontations with the Pharisees, Sadducees and other members of the Sanhedrin.

As you may recall, virtually every time Jesus and the Religious Leaders of the day got together they locked horns over “The Law.” Over and over they would try to trip Jesus up, as they sought his interpretation of “The Law.” And, over and over He “wowed” them with His accuracy.
Now, at this point it is imperative that we understand that there was nothing wrong with The Law. The problem was, by the time Jesus appeared, the Religious Leaders of the day had turned their faith into emphasizing The Law more than God, and certainly more than caring about the welfare of others. We find this true in several places in the Gospels:

Matthew 12:1-2At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

Luke 13:10-27 10 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. 15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? 16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? 17 And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

Mark 3:1-6And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

Luke 6:7And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.

You may be wondering why concentrating on The Law was so contrary to Jesus, and thus Christianity. The answer is pretty simple, when you know it, but may be so subtle that perhaps many won’t pick up on it. As a result, I will share it here: They were looking to get to Heaven by WORKS and not by FAITH!!! In essence, had even stopped looking for the Messiah! The rationale behind what might seem like a somewhat preposterous statement is that if they were looking for the Messiah, they would have recognized that that was exactly who Jesus was!!! Several times Jesus alluded to, and/or blatantly stated, this was exactly the case. Here are just a few examples of what I am referring to.

Matthew 12:38-4238 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. 42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

Luke 20:3-8And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was. And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

Matthew 21:33-45 33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.     44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

See, Jesus hated Religion and, perhaps even more importantly, Religious Leaders. The reason He hated the Religious Leaders? Because they were, and ARE, the ones who judged people (Judge not, lest ye be judged Mt. 7:1). In fact, they even judged Jesus!, as we see in the scriptures below!

Mark 2:6-7But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

Mark 2:16And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?

Mark 3:2222 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.

Luke 6:7And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.

Luke 9:22Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

I know the wheels are turning in your brain, and, undoubtedly, right from the VERY beginning, you have been thinking, “Well, Floyder, if Christianity isn’t a religion, WHAT THE SMASH IS IT? The answer? Christianity is not a Religion, it is a RELATIONSHIP … a Relationship with Jesus Christ!

You have to realize, and remember, that man was created to allow God to fill His “People Void.” He wanted to commune daily, that’s why He met with Adam and Eve in the Cool of the Evening each day in the Garden of Eden. From the beginning of time, all God wanted was a personal relationship with His greatest creation … US! He didn’t establish rules so that we could prove ourselves to Him by following them to the letter … He created them to give us guidelines to protect us! That is why the TEN COMMANDMENTS are all about Relationships … the first four our Relationship with Him and the last six our Relationship with each other! It was the Religious Leaders who made it about following the rules, and not having a healthy Relationship with God! That’s why Christ hated Religion, and why we have to, too!

The GOOD NEWS is that Christianity is even proven not to be a Religion by its very name! When you think of all of the other Religions of the world you will see that they all end in “ism:” Buddhism, Zoroasterianism, Hinduism, Muslimism, Humanism, Mormonism, and even Judaism. But even the different Christian Denominations lack the “ism:” Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian and so on. How do we know Christianity isn’t a Religion? ‘Cause IT AIN’T NO “…ISM!!!!!!!”

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