Monday, January 23, 2012

I Love Jesus and Religion

For anyone who may be out of the loop, there has been a video circulating called “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus.”  Many responses to said video have cropped up, with people both praising it and others harshly criticizing it.  If you have yet to view it, check here:

I find that while the author makes some good points, there are many things I think he gets wrong.  First, he starts with the statement “What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion.”  This I strongly disagree with.  Jesus was a practicing Jew, and his message was largely to the Jewish people who were awaiting the Messiah (Hebrew) or Christ (Greek).  Many times Jesus is seen teaching in synagogues and also celebrating the various Jewish, most notably the Passover before his death.  He even said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them,” (Matt. 5:17).

Now about the whole “religion starts wars, fails to feed the poor,” etc., yes, that has happened historically.  But here’s the thing:  we’re all human and we’re all fallen creatures in need of God’s grace.  Are we quick to judge at times?  Yes.  Are we going to look out for ourselves instead of others at times?  Yes.  Are we perfect?  Absolutely not.  Jesus knew all this when he formed his disciples.  Look at them, and really take a close look.  Fishermen, tax collectors, zealots:  all groups who were certainly not at the top of the pyramid.  Look at Peter, James and John, Thomas, Judas; a fine example of “rag tag” if ever there was one.

Yet, it as Paul wrote in 1 Cor 1:27, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”  This is why throughout history in the Catholic Church, many popes are in a sense terrified at being elected, unlike today’s politicians who revel in it and celebrate it.

Thankfully, Jesus gave us hope when he established this New Covenant.  Look at these statements:

“I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matt. 16:18b)
“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20b)

Hypocrisy gets some noted face time as well.  Again, we’re human and not perfect.  I know all too well that there are hypocrites out there; the Catholic Church is tragically well known for this.  Terms like “Chreaster” or “Ash/Palm” Catholics get thrown around (Chreaster is fairly universal in any church).  It does bother me that people, especially Catholics, are not serious about their faith and simply go through the motions, but I cannot change their hearts; only God can.

“Jesus and religion are on opposites spectrums.  One’s the work of God, the other’s a man-made invention.”  Hardly, since Jesus established the New Covenant to fulfill God’s original promise.  As mentioned above, Jesus said, “I will build my church.”  Even the Pharisee Gamaliel admitted this when the disciples were brought before the Sanhedrin, saying,

“Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.  Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.  Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:35-39)

The well known saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” is a perfect metaphor for the Church.  Despite the various weak links that have strained the Church, still it stands as Jesus promised it would.

For those also interested, here's a response video:

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