Many people enjoy a dislike of “religion.” Hence the popularity of the spiritual but not religious identity … which is often the slogan (of sorts) for the pro-Jesus, anti-church mentality.
Religion is equal to rules. Rules are equal to standards. Standards are equal to responsibilities. Responsibilities are equal to religion. Hence the exodus of many “churches” and their relationship to any perceived hint of hardline religion.
Somehow people have managed to convince themselves that a relationship with Jesus is not based on any sort of hard-line – because Jesus was anti-religion, right?
Granted, Jesus took extreme issue with the religious leaders of his earthly day (a religion, mind you, that ultimately revolved around and pointed to Jesus – Luke 24:22, Galatians 3:24), but Jesus’ issue wasn’t with religion in general – his problem was with the way they practiced their religion by blurring hard-lines created by God! (Matthew 15:1-9, Matthew 23, Mark 3:1-5, Luke 14:6, John 5:10-16) And such an issue was nothing new (Amos 8, Jeremiah 23).
So before you think being against hardline religion makes you pro-Jesus (or vice-versa), keep these teachings in mind:
- “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5 NKJV)
- “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)
- “And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:2-3 NKJV)
- “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”” (Matthew 19:9 NKJV)
- “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”” (John 4:24 NKJV)
- “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” (Matthew 12:30 NKJV)
- “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37 NKJV)
On and on and on the list could go.
I’m not trying to create a Torah or Talmud with my point. My point is simply this – doing away with hardline religion does away with Jesus. Why follow someone if there is no obligation?
Jesus doesn’t choose sides based on the lines we draw with our own religion or lines we erase with our supposed spirituality … Jesus chooses based on the side we place ourselves in relation to the lines he has drawn. And often times, regardless of popularity, those lines are plainly drawn with heavenly authority.
“And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29 NKJV)