JUST STOP IT

This video is funny.  There are some things we should JUST STOP!  But, it ceases being funny when, try as we might, we cannot break a bad habit, change our mindset, shake a phobia or escape an addiction.

Do you know what else is NOT funny?   Religion.   Religion is not funny, especially, when referring to Christianity.

WHAT IS RELIGION?

The definition of religion is controversial and complicated, and even religious scholars can’t agree on any one definition.  Oxford Dictionaries defines religion as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.”  (Ugh!)

The MacMillan Encyclopedia of Religions states:

The very attempt to define religion, to find some distinctive or possibly unique essence or set of qualities that distinguish the religious from the remainder of human life, is primarily a Western concern. The attempt is a natural consequence of the Western speculative, intellectualistic, and scientific disposition. It is also the product of the dominant Western religious mode, what is called the Judeo-Christian climate or, more accurately, the theistic inheritance from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The theistic form of belief in this tradition, even when downgraded culturally, is formative of the dichotomous Western view of religion. That is, the basic structure of theism is essentially a distinction between a transcendent deity and all else, between the creator and his creation, between God and man.

The anthropologist Clifford Geertz defined religion as a

A system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.”

The theologian Antoine Vergote took the term supernatural simply to mean

whatever transcends the powers of nature or human agency. He also emphasized the cultural reality of religion, which he defined as the entirety of the linguistic expressions, emotions and, actions and signs that refer to a supernatural being or supernatural beings.

 Wikipedia says Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion

based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world’s largest religion, with about 2.4 billion followers. (Better, but, is this really no better than the other descriptions.)

3 REASONS

I would offer three main reasons why (I say) it is not funny to call Christianity a “religion”:

 Confusing– The term “religion” or “religious” is confusing and does not address the person, mission and work of Jesus.  Jesus railed against religion and religious men and women during His earthly ministry.  The Apostle James describes “pure and undefiled religion as to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

Rules– Religion or religious carries the idea of (a) keeping a set of rules just for the sake of the rules themselves, (b) performing certain rituals for the just sake of the ritual or as a type of magic, and (c) pleasing your ‘leadership’, a system of religious dogma or pleasing people instead of pleasing God, alone.

Demeaning – The terms religion and religious are demeaning.  (a) Religion elevates a select few men or women as superior to their adherents, and relegates the rest to lower castes. (b) Religion elevates the ‘elite’ of certain men and women to a status that distracts from God, alone.

True Christianity, on the other hand, requires every man, woman and child to become a servant of Jesus Christ.

Jesus describes Himself as a Servant.  Jesus says, in Matthew 20:25,  “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles domineer over them, and those in high position exercise authority over them. 26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wants to become prominent among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever desires to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

We, as Christians, are cautioned in Philippians 2:5, to “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. “

So, if you are thinking of Christianity as a religion, and inadvertently think being a Christian will make you something special in the world, or are treating it as such, then beware, because that mindset will keep you (or is keeping you) from entering His Kingdom.  So, please just STOP IT!  JUST STOP IT!  We, as Christians, are called to serve.  This is the key to the Kingdom.

CHRISTIAN – “A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST”

Let’s simplify.  The name Christian was first used in Antioch, Syria, in reference to a group of people who were followers of Jesus Christ.  You can find this reference in the book of Acts 11:26 “and when Barnabas had found Paul, he brought him to Antioch.  And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers of people; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

The Greek word Χριστιανός (Christianos), meaning “follower of Christ“, comes from Χριστός (Christos), meaning “anointed one”, with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership.

If you are practicing “a religion” or practicing a religious activity called “just going to church” and you have been expecting to fully encounter God, you will be disappointed.

Religion will not bring you to the Living God because religion (a) does not address the Person. Mission or work of Jesus.  (b) Religion is little more than a set of rules to be kept and rituals to be performed.  (c) It is demeaning and religion almost always (d) elevates a ruling class over the rightful priesthood of believers in Christ”.

JESUS IS THE DOOR 

Jesus did not come to establish a religion.  He came to seek and save the lost. He came to show us the way to The Kingdom of God.  Furthermore, He came to show us the way to live abundantly, now in this life, and to live eternally with Him in His Father’s House.

Jesus is not of this world.  He “other worldly”.  And, you cannot find “THE DOOR” and escape this world of limitation and death with a worldly mindset. You and I must change our mindset.  We must be transformed.

I realize this will sound weird to some, but, we are talking about an actual realm of God.  Jesus and the Bible tell us that there is a Kingdom of God, and it is near to us and within us.  And you find this Kingdom when you ‘repent’ and seek and surrender to Jesus and follow Him.

John, chapter 1, uses the name of Jesus and the Word (The Spoken and Written Word of God, the Bible) interchangeably.  Jesus and His Words are the portal into the supernatural realm of God, the Kingdom of God.

You won’t find Jesus in any religion.  You won’t find Jesus because of membership in a church organization or because you attend meetings in a ‘church building’.

You will find Him by God’s Grace and through your faith in that He does exist.  You must believe that God exists in order to come to Him.  Then He will prove to be One who rewards those who seek Him.  The person who comes to God must believe that He exists, and you will see that He will prove to be The One who rewards those who seek Him.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

The Bible is both complex and simple, practical while seeming impractical, and gives us insights to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, that is, to be a Christian and to enter into and to live with Him, in His Kingdom.

Here are three short and helpful videos (3 minutes +/-):

Or

Or

 

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