Yes, my religion can be bad. The word religion is used negatively in the New Testament for what doesn’t please God. So when is my religion bad? Continue reading
I love the gospel according to John. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying anything remotely negative about the synoptics; but John’s gospel is raw truth for a spiritually cooked world.
John set the religious world straight in the first-century when it came to who Jesus was, and it’s something that his letter still does to this day. It amazes me how the succinctness of his writings on the only begotten Son of God, who came to be the sinless Lamb of God, can correct pages, and even centuries, of religious error and confusion in only one, two or three verses.
For example, I read a comment the other day that tried to paint Jesus as someone who sinned because he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Their line of thought was that since God cannot be tempted to do evil, and Jesus was tempted to do evil in various ways while in the wilderness, it must therefore mean that Jesus was not God-in-the-flesh due to his temptation, and that Jesus actually sinned by being tempted in-and-of-itself. Besides the fact that Hebrews 4:14-16 teaches that Jesus was tempted, without actually giving into those weaknesses and sinning himself in order that he might be our compassionate high-priest who is able to identify with the weaknesses that we struggle with, thanks to John’s gospel we know that it was Jesus himself who challenged his accusers (people who were angry that Jesus claimed that God was his father) to convict him of sin if they could (John 8:46). It was a challenge that went unanswered! All it takes is one verse from John’s gospel to settle whether or not Jesus was a sinner and capable of being offered for our sin as the sinless Lamb of God.
I also saw another comment/article the other day that tried to disprove the Deity of Jesus based upon an observation that presented several scriptures that refer to God as the sole creator of the universe, the earth and everything that is contained within each of them. To further their point, they even referred to the scriptures where Jesus himself made reference to God as the creator of man and woman in the beginning without making any reference to himself. These points would be fine and well if it weren’t for what the rest of the scriptures teach on the subject. Case in point, there’s a couple of verses in John’s gospel that just so happen to mention that Jesus (the Word) was at the beginning and that nothing that was made without him (John 1:1-3). So again, all it takes is a couple of verses from John’s gospel to settle the issue.
John’s gospel was written for a time when a lot of people were questioning just who Jesus was…a time that’s a lot like today, and that’s why I love his letter that teaches people about the good news of Jesus Christ!
“This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (John 21:24-25)
“Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you’” (Acts 17:22-23 NKJV). “Religion” literally means “fearing some deity,” in this case, idols. Some people are “very religious” about the “gods” of: power, sex, money, sports, themselves, or things. “Worship without knowing” the God of Heaven and Earth and the Bible is vain. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26 NKJV).
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.
If everything came into existence by chance and natural processes, then mankind has no responsibility to a supernatural being. Religion becomes a crutch for weak-minded and superstitious people. Churches become monuments to human ignorance. Furthermore, if evolution is true, then our actions are consequences of billions of years’ worth of natural events over which we had no control. We bear no responsibility for our behavior. Whether we do what some perceive as good or bad is meaningless, since there is no good or bad. That is the logical extension of Darwin’s theory. It is one I can live without. This is Just-A-Minute.
QUESTION: If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
AN ATHEIST’S actual answer: Societies are people. People develop theories and create concepts. The existence of religion merely proves the existence of people. The various concepts of god(s) and the great number of different religions no more provide evidence for the existence of multiple gods than they do so for even one.
A CHRISTIAN (me) answer: This answer is pretty much accurate. The debate on God’s existence must have a different starting place than a society’s religion, or many societies having a religious community. There might be some warrant to asking why the religion exists, but the answer will have to travel further into the depths of the foundation than mere existence of a community idea.
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).
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” John 20:30-31.
At one end of the pendulum, the postmodern culture we live in works hand-in-hand with liberal theologians who completely discount any supernatural events including Jesus’ miracles recorded in Scripture. They disregard that which John says are written so that they might believe that Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God, and have life in His name. That course is a dead end—literally!
At the other end of the pendulum, are those religious folks who believe Jesus is still doing miracles and wants everyone to be healthy and wealthy. If He’s not working a miracle in your life, you don’t have enough faith. But notice that the purpose of Jesus’ already-recorded miracles were to bring readers down through the ages to faith.
Jesus certainly had to power to do more than we see Him doing to right the many wrongs of ancient Israel, but we always see Him selectively using that power for His true purpose.
Is it a miracle you believe?
Doug Kashorek, Plattsburgh church of Christ