If someone were to ask me what my religion was, I would probably respond by saying that I’m a Christian. But that wouldn’t exactly be the truth. You see, in reality I don’t consider myself to be a religious person. In fact, I hate religion.
Here are just a few reasons why…
Jesus spent much of His ministry coming against “religion.” You see, the Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day. And by religious, I mean that they were all about the Law. They loved the Law so much that they added countless laws to it forcing the Jews to obey any and every command they so desired. It was all about rituals and obedience, but they lacked heart. They loved the Law, but they didn’t love God.
Religion focuses on doctrine rather than the heart. Jesus made one point clear throughout His ministry: it’s all about the heart. Don’t get me wrong, good theology matters. But if we’re not careful, theology and doctrine can become our main focus. Just like the Pharisees, we can lose sight of why we’re studying it in the first place. I’m sure they didn’t just wake up one morning and decide they wanted to be ultra-rigid and religious. It was a gradual process of slowly losing site of what their purpose truly was as leaders of the Jewish faith.
Religion causes disunity. We often hear that we should never discuss religion, and it’s the truth. Religion has the ability to divide us over the simplest of beliefs. It’s broken up friendships, marriages, families… It’s even caused entire nations to go to war with one another.
Religion is hard. To be honest, following a bunch of rules about how I should live my life is hard work. I now completely understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he said he was set free from the Law. Obeying the Law (especially with all of the newly added rules of the Pharisees) was an impossible burden for the Jewish people, which is one of the reasons why Jesus said that rest could be found in Him.
Religion was an invention of the enemy to steer us away from God’s truth. Yes, you read that right. Religion was Satan’s idea. I know this because all throughout the Bible (and history) we see something called idolatry. Nearly every culture in ancient times served not just one god, but multiple gods… usually in the form of man-made statues or images. Some even worshiped creation itself – frogs, rivers, snakes, the sun, the stars, etc. But the enemy’s greatest trick of all was to create a Jewish “religion” (through the Pharisees) and then after Jesus came a Christian “religion.” Religious Christianity is rule and doctrine based. God’s transforming power and love is missing; and to be honest, it’s this type of Christianity that turns the world off to Christ all together. The world knows it isn’t genuine.
Empty religion is simply the enemy’s version of worship.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.” – Matthew 23:25-26 (NLT)
So there you have it – five reasons why I refuse to be religious. It may sound harsh to say that I hate religion, but in reality, Jesus hated religion too. Religion makes people feel like they are being good when in reality their hearts are far from God.
It certainly gave the Pharisees a sense of pride. But while they claimed to be doing it all for God, they were really doing it for themselves. And in the process, they were leading others down the same path. So yes, Jesus hated religion because it was keeping people from the truth and power of God’s love for them. It’s one of the very reasons He died… to set us free from the burden of religion and to introduce us to the life changing power of a life empowered by the Holy Spirit.
I am a Christian who has been transformed by the power of God’s love.
Every day I strive and grow as I learn to walk in my new God-given identity.
I am empowered by the Holy Spirit as He teaches me, guides me, and gives me the strength to say no to temptation.
I live for Christ, not by following a list of rules, but by listening to the Holy Spirit and living by God’s truth.
I am not a religious person. I am a child of God.