It is becoming ever-increasingly more common to see posts authored by “spiritual” bloggers, hear about sermons preached by “spiritual” speakers or read about books written by “spiritual” writers who make the same spiritual mistake, as politically motivated atheists do, by championing the mantra of “freedom from religion” in such a way to convince others to agree with their point of view. Sounds like religion to me, but anyways. While understanding a person’s point of view is important, it is also true that an individual’s point of view can be easily skewed. That’s because our point of view (our experiences, our study or the lack thereof, our motivations, etc.) can make us completely blind to what we’re saying on a particular topic no matter how plain the truth really is because of the barriers that we self-erect with our position.
A case in point can be seen in the following “anti-religion” statement:
“We find it fascinating that every single hostile encounter Jesus has is with highly religious people. Not one of them is with a so-called “pagan.” It was religious people who opposed Christ; it was religious people who had him killed. This ought to give you some idea of the pernicious nature of religion. There is relationship with God and life in his Kingdom, and then there is religion. They are not the same.” (here’s the link to the author’s site so you know I’m not taking anything out of context)
The above quote comes straight from the website of a seemingly fairly well-known author in religious circles…or should I say anti-religious circles? Depends upon your point of view I guess. Either way, the above quote also shows what happens when you want to make a point so badly that you don’t quite stop and listen to what’s being said because it sounds so good to the ears of those who believe it and who want to hear it. So what’s my point about the above point of view? Well it’s this – for multiple reasons, it’s just not biblical!
1) Of course Jesus dealt with highly religious people on a regular basis – he lived in Israel! Israel was where the very people who had the word of God committed to them lived (Romans 3:1-2). By the time Immanuel was born in Bethlehem, Israel was thoroughly finished with the pagan relationships of the past that are so apparent throughout many of the Old Testament letters. So there’s no real point with that point.
2) Contrary to the common belief, pagans did indeed cause grief in the life of Jesus even to the point of being co-responsible for taking it! It was the followers of Jesus who made this clear, and it is the very word of God that plainly says, “So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:24-28 – emphasis mine) Whether you call them religious or not, it doesn’t change the point – pagans (or non crediderunt in unum Deum) played a role in the death of Jesus. And even if Jesus would have gone beyond the borders of Palestine preaching the kingdom of God, he would have received the same treatment that the rest of the apostles and prophets and believers received while doing that very thing as can be seen throughout the book of Acts because that’s how the world has always reacted to God’s light whether in Jerusalem or in Jacksonville (John 3:19-21).