Thoughtful Thursday: Religion vs. Jesus?

In case you haven't heard there is a YouTube video that has gone viral called "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus". While I could spend my time writing down my own thoughts about the video, Anthony Warnes already summed it up for me. He gave me permission to repost his thoughts (and mine) here on my blog.

“Religion: I hate it. In fact I literally resent it” – Jeff Bethke
These words in Jeff Bethke’s YouTube video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” conclude the four-minute poem that has gone viral.  Christians across the nation are applauding this video and reposting it on Facebook and Twitter.  The video is very well done and Mr. Bethke has a wonderful way of bringing in his audience and captivating them with his words and style of speaking.
However captivating and well done the video is, I feel that there is a need to bring out many statements of Mr. Bethke’s that are not founded on the Word of Christ.
Before we begin, I will state that Mr. Bethke’s apparent purpose for his video is well received.  He attacks the Hypocrites in the church in many different ways.  He attacks those that say they have Jesus, yet their lives would prove otherwise.  A great quote of the video is; “There is a problem if people only know you are a Christian by your Facebook.” Jesus had to deal with the group called the Pharisees (Matthew 23), and He attacked this very problem as well.  To this purpose I will say, we need more of this!
Unfortunately, he goes above and beyond this main purpose and in so doing, leaves the Word of God behind in his video (as we are going to see in the following quotes).
  • “Jesus came to abolish religion.” As we look at the Scriptures, we do see that Jesus abolished something; He abolished the “Enmity” (barrier wall – read Ephesians 2:14-15).  Before Jesus died for our sins, there was a division between the Jews and the Gentiles.  When Jesus died, this “wall of hatred” was abolished.  Jesus never “abolished religion.”  In fact, in Matthew 5:17 Jesus said; “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Nowhere in this verse or in Ephesians do we see that Jesus came to abolish religion.  (Remember the word “fulfill” it will be useful later).
  • “Jesus hated religion, and for it he called them fools.  Don’t you see, so much better than following some rules?”  When talking about the Pharisees and another group, the Sadducees, Jesus did not hate their religion!  What He hated was their legalism, pride, and unfaithfulness (Matthew 23; Luke 18:9-14).  Many in the religious world believe that when Jesus came, He got rid of “rules”.  How do we explain then John 14:15? “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  Could it be that we have rules that we have to obey?  If we love Jesus, then we will want to obey these rules.
  • “Religion is a man made invention…the infection.”  Really?  It is a fact that there is “false religion”, but did man “invent” religion? And is religion truly an “infection”?  I invite you to search the New Testament.  Search it and find where religion is a bad thing.  You will not find it.  In fact the word “Religion” is used to show how religion can be “Pure” (James 1:27).  “Infection”?  Search the Scriptures again and what will you find?  Sin is the infection, not religion.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23)
  • “Religion says DO.  Jesus says DONE.”  In this section of the video, Mr. Bethke does make a valid point; we are not saved by our own merit.  True!  However true it is that we cannot save ourselves and we need Jesus to do it for us, does not mean that we are free from DOING.  James makes it very clear that if we have faith, then we must prove them by our works (2:14-20).
  • “Religion: I hate it. In fact I literally resent it.  Cause when Jesus said ‘it is finished’ I believe He meant it.”  Look at John 19:30; “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”  I told you earlier to remember the word, “Fulfill”.  Here in John 19 we see the fulfillment of the Law, not the crushing of religion.  In John 19 we see the fulfillment of the Prophets, not the abolishing of religion.  He became the Perfect Lamb that crushed sin once and for all.  He became our Savior who saved us from the death that we so deserved.  He did not crush religion, He fulfilled it!
May I just say, maybe I should give the man the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe Mr. Bethke has his definition of religion wrong.  Maybe Mr. Bethke is truly just trying to expose the Hypocrites in the church.  This post is not a personal attack on Mr. Bethke.  This post is rather a response to what has been said, whether he meant it or not.
Do you really hate religion?  Do you just hate the hypocrisy of some?  If so, say so!  Just please refrain from stating things (or reposting things) that you do not truly believe.

Thankful for Jesus and religion in the treehouse,


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