Monday, August 13, 2012

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus Video: A Response

From an email I sent to a special young lady


Thanks for sending me the link to the video. I was soooo curious what would cause you to post that you hated organized religion. I had a lot of different ideas, but just couldn’t resist asking.

I think the video is interesting. Very generally, I agree. Interestingly also, however, is that there are a lot of people who are disagreeing with him (Jefferson or Jeff), and I also generally agree with them! Doesn’t that sound strange?

Well, probably the biggest reason is that people are working from different definitions and concepts of “religion”. In fact, they had better be (especially Jefferson) since the Bible does talk about pure religion; “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – (James 1:27). So, there most definitely is such a thing as good and pure religion. We know too, however, that a lot of what we call religion today is certainly not of that type. Clearly, that is what Jefferson is getting at.

A bit of story: I share my testimony probably a little differently than most people. I say I got saved when I was 4yrs old. I still remember the day very clearly, in Sunday school in a smallish Baptist church. Looking back and knowing what I know now, probably a lot of those people were the type of people that I would regard as “religious” today, and wasting time doing so much activity with so little effectiveness in the kingdom. But…I got saved there! They taught me about Jesus!

Nonetheless, I lived “religiously” growing up. I kept my Bible like a good little Christian, and never read it. But, I really believed in Jesus and was definitely saved. God spared my life a few times when I could have easily died. Finally, He did get my attention one day after I went through some tough times. God has performed some real miracles in my life. One day, while cleaning my barracks room in the Marine Corps, I moved my Bible to dust around it…and decided to flip it open and read a verse or two. Ha! I read a “verse or two” for a few months! I couldn’t put it down! It spoke so clearly to me it was crazy! All I did for a few months was work, eat, sleep, and read my Bible. Many days I skipped eating so I could read more. On the weekends I drove somewhere to be alone and slept in my car and just read and prayed.

Anyway, I asked God to give me some Christian friends, and the next day, at work, God kept speaking very clearly to me to go to BC street after work. BC means bars and clubs, and is where military guys would hang out at night. I didn’t want to frequent that place anymore, though, but God made it clear that I had to go. I did, and I miraculously met two missionaries and told them that God told me to go and meet them! They completely freaked out (as in they thought I was a nut…which is true, but beside the point ;) ). Anyhow, they introduced me to their Christian friends, and so the night just after praying for Christian friends, I had a bunch! I ended up going to one of the missionary girls’ church…

And during worship service, Jesus stood in front of me. I couldn’t see Him physically, but somehow I could see Him. I told Him, “This is it Lord, I give myself to You.” And BAM! I got hit with (what I now know to be) the Holy Spirit! He entered through my head, rushed through my whole body, and this awesome sensation hovered around my feet. I was completely filled. The song we were singing had something about bowing down, and I wanted to do it sooo badly, but it was my first time at the church and didn’t know anyone except that missionary, so I didn’t; but not because I was afraid of kneeling in front of the people, but because I could feel something ready to burst from my belly if I did. Without knowing that there even was such a thing as speaking in tongues, I could feel it within me. I knew that if I knelt down I wouldn’t be able to stop it from coming out, loud and proud, as it were. So I didn’t kneel (I really wish I would have).

I call that experience being “born again”. So, I was saved at 4, but born again at 19.

Now, this also happened in a church, or, in the midst of “organized religion”. So, it is a little too broad a brush, I think, to say that one hates organized religion (and I’m not picking on you or anyone else who may say that…I’ve both said it and still do hate what often goes on in the name of religion). All that said, however, I grew over the years to become fed up with the “church” and “religion”. There was just so much garbage that it could potentially make anyone go insane. There are so many traditions that are just unbiblical. But I’ve also come to see this in a more balanced light.

It’s not that most churches are bad per se, but that they lack so much good. What they do, often, is somewhat good, but it just falls so short of what it could and probably should be. Interestingly, that is the very idea of the word for sin, to fall short. The Bible also says that it is sin to know what we should do but not actually do it. So, I don’t look at church or “organized religion” as necessarily bad, but just lacking so much good that it can be sickening.

I had an opportunity to go to and help out a new church several years ago where the pastor had, really, gotten rid of his religion. He really did. He got tired of the traditions and things and just left it all and started living “non-religiously”. It was great…for a while. But you know what? It didn’t last for very long. And I’ve come to learn something else. It can’t last! People will always have something that they believe in; a right way of doing things, and pursue that. What else can they do? It is inevitable, and necessary, and even good. If right and wrong exist objectively, then it is really our duty to find the best way, the right way, and live fully in it. But that is exactly how religion gets “religious” and “organized”. The young man in the video, Jefferson, has his own religion right now, and he had it even while making the video…and his religion is actually what made him make the video. But you know what else? That’s a good thing! And even though I can’t give a full and hearty Amen to the video, I applaud him for standing up for what he believes and putting something on the line.

I think I’ve come to see that the biggest problem for all of us is that we get stuck thinking “our way” is the only way. We need to get Romans 14 burned into our skulls.

There are other reasons I have for not being able to fully embrace the video, but maybe another time.

Please listen to the video below. It’s a favorite song from way back.

(I scrubbed the embedded video as it wasn't loading for me. Link is here.)

God Bless Ya Little Sista (and all else who may stumble along here),

Keep Lovin’ Jesus,

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