Religion is Dead! Long Live Jesus!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
– Matthew 5:17-20 (KJV)
“I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion. You would never get me interested in the old maids’ social club with a little bit of Christianity thrown in to give it respectability. I want all that God has, or I don’t want any.”
— A.W. Tozer from The Counselor
First let us start out this article by answering a question. Who are the Pharisees? The Pharisees were a group of people who had dedicated themselves to Jewish law. They were so meticulous in their carrying out this law they forgot about the purpose of the law, which is to draw them to a relationship with God.
Martin Luther (the guy who started the protestant movement, i.e. non-catholics) reminds me of these Pharisees! Yes I said Martin Luther, only he was born in the middle ages after Christ. You see he was a monk, and was so worried about being seen as acceptable before a Holy God that he would literally whip himself with a whip that had nine leather strands on it (also known as the Cat of Nine Tails), and he worked so hard that he put the other monks to shame! But you know what? He found that the more he did, the less Holy he found himself. Unlike the Pharisees, he realized he was still unclean. Until one day he was reading scripture and realized that no one can earn their way to heaven. Only by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross can we come to a Holy God, by believing and trusting in the shed blood on the cross.
So with this background how does this relate to today? It is simple there are many people in churches across the world who have made church a religion and not a relationship. There are too many people that will claim to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior every Sunday and do works that are contrary to their “so-called beliefs.” These individuals make their lives rotate around a building or a group of people. The church was never called to be a social club but a force of change to the world. So what has happened? Christians have lost their first love! This first love is supposed to be Jesus Christ and the Bible.
So where does the problem begin in our churches? It begins with YOU! Christian are you one of these people that say you know Jesus, go to church, work for the church, and are involved in the church? You know what the key word was in that question? CHURCH! Get out of the mindset of THE CHURCH and into the mindset of MY GOD AND MY SAVIOR! All I want and all I need are in Jesus! Give me relationship with Jesus, not with a church!
So, does this give us an excuse to not go to church if there are so many not living out their faith in love? Lord Forbid! With all of its flaws and problems, there are churches out there that are trying to live in a close relationship with God. Your task, if not a church-goer, is to find one and join them in their mission, to come as close to God as possible, be changed in his presence and live in the Love of God that is supposed to be spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
May I take a moment and encourage you to pray with all that is inside of you to ask God to restore a true and living faith in your life. While head knowledge about the Bible is important, it is more important to have a living and true relationship with God
I say this, Give me Jesus and what He thinks about me, not man. I don’t want man’s accolades and I don’t care about man’s condemnation of me. I just want to know that Jesus approves of me. So that I can truly say with every part of my beings, shouting from the roof tops, “JESUS I NEED YOU AND I LOVE YOU!” This is the heart that A.W. Tozer was trying to get across to people in his book. May I suggest another book to read that he wrote? It is called “The Pursuit of God.”