"There was a time when religion ruled the world. There is a reason it is called the Dark Ages." - Ruth Green

The fruits of Religion for too many years of Church History have been holy wars, butcheries, crusades, inquisitions, the extermination of Native Americans, and the introduction of African slaves in their place.

Christianity was never to be about faith-fighting and ethnic or religious cleansing, exterminating anyone that doesn’t agree with us or live according to our sacred doctrines.

Nor was it every to be about "organized religion”. It has nothing to do with hierarchical structures, ornate buildings, flamboyant preachers, or traditional rules and rituals.

But it isn't about disorganized religion either with unprepared sermons, shooting from the hip, letting it all hang out and just going with the flow. That’s been just as self-destructive to the cause of Christ.

Actually, it’s really not about religion at all…organized or disorganized. Organic, Emergent, Progressive, Traditional, Fundamental, Missional, Primitive, Old-fashioned or Neo-Evangelical. It’s not about associations or affiliations or denominations. It’s not about Modern or Postmodern. It’s not even about Relevant or Reverent…or anything in between.


It’s supposed to be about Jesus…but we’ve lost that somewhere along the way in the church. We’ve made it about all sorts of other sidebar issues majoring on the minors and minoring on the majors.

A couple months ago I learned that the word Religion comes from the Latin word Religio which means “To bind up” interestingly enough.

*Religion, quite literally, is Constipated Christianity, bound up inside a straightjacket of rules leading to rigidity.

And the world watches us frenetically chasing our tails wearing ourselves out trying to appease the controlling Christianity of rules, regulations, restrictions and requirements…all the while missing what it’s really all about…a Relationship…a relaxing and refreshing relationship with Jesus.

Yet often our picture of Jesus isn’t much better than our picture of’s hard to know the diffence after a while between the baby and the bathwater.

To many people…Jesus is a cop, a parole officer…policing your dangerous heart.

He’s pointing out infractions and violations, establishing his restrictive terms of engagement. Mothering your every move and smothering your heart with unachievable expectations.

But that’s not true at all…

If anything Jesus was singing right along with R.E.M. almost every day of his 33 year life…

“That’s me in the corner…losing my religion.”

Even in the First Century, Religion didn’t like Jesus very much. For three years Jesus rubbed them the wrong way. Like petting a cat backwards, He irritated their belief system that led to the militant life of sin management.

Jesus was, in every sense of the word, a schlockmeister“A purveyor of cheap, dirty goods.” He constantly purveyed the cheap and dirty goods of religion and it’s leadership, and called them out on their con-artistry.

The Bible catalogs a tenuous and tense relationship between the religious community and Jesus throughout his ministry. Check out this montage of verses from the Gospels that highlight the tension Jesus had with religion from the get-go. Kick back and chillax, ‘cause this is going to take several minutes, the data is extensive… (note the highlighted words--they indicate the most important values of religion to this day…

Matt 7:28-29 – “He taught as one having authority and not as teacher of the law.”

Matt 9:11 – “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Matt. 9:34 – “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Matt. 12:2 – “Look, your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

Matt. 12:10 – “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

Matt. 12:14 – “But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.”

Matt. 15:1-2 – “Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Matt 15:12 – Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees where offended when they heard you speak?”

Matt 16:1 – “The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.”

Matt 21:15 – “But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, they were indignant.”

Matt 21:45 – “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. So they looked for a way to arrest him.”

Matt. 22:15 – Then the Pharisees when out and laid plans to trap him in his words.”

Matt 26:3 – “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.”

Matt 26:59 – “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.”


Mark 2:6 – Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming!’”


Luke 4:28-30 – “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”

Luke 6:11 – “But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

Luke 12:1 – When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.”

Luke 13:31 – “At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, ‘Go tell that fox, I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day.”

Luke 15:1 – “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”

Luke 16:14 – “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.’”

Luke 19:37,39 – “…the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen…some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’”

Luke 19:47-48 – “Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.”

Luke 20:26 – “They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.”


John 8:13 – The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

John 9:59 – “At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”

John 10:19-20 – “At [Jesus’] words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, ‘He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?’”

John 10:39 – “Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.”


Listen to some of Jesus responses to their opposition...

Matt 12:34 – “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Matt 15:7-9 – “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain, their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”

Matt 16:6 – “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Matt 22:18 – “But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?”

Matt 22:29 – “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.’”

Mark 7:9 – “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”

Mark 7:13 – “Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

After taking this little scripture's not hard to see why he got nailed to a cross.

Someone once said, "Religion is to brain what tapeworm is to intestine."

I ardently concur and submit to you that Religion has done more to damage the cause of Christ than atheism because it initially feigns an alliance of common values only to subtly kill you with what is traditionally known in war as “friendly fire”.

Jesus was constantly under the “unfriendly” fire of religion.

He still is.


CTrax said…
Interesting post. I would like to point out, however, that the abolition of American slavery started as a Christian movement.

Popular Posts