Why Do People Hate “Religion?”

Do you want to know why people hate “Religion” so much?

They say you can talk about anything with strangers except for politics and “Religion”. Atheist author Christopher Hitchens wrote a book titled: “God is NOT Great; how religion poisons everything;” and it has become more and more prevalent to hear people saying they don’t want anything to do with “Religion”…………..  

Why?

Maybe people hate “Religion” so much because it actually does does poison things. “Religion” can create insecurity like nothing else in this world. Christianity has not been immune to this. It’s so easy for churches to become wrapped up in the external: “how to’s” of Christianity and to get away from our identity IN CHRIST, And when we do this – we become a “Religion” like all others…. And it is poisonous.

Have you ever read the book of Galatians? Did you know this letter Paul wrote was really; for all intents and purposes; a battle against the church becoming “Religious.” In the churches of Galatia there was a “Religious” movement growing; a teaching that threatened to rob people of their freedom and identity in Christ. What was it? It was a teaching that required all believers; if they wanted to be true Christians; to get circumcised; and to observe Jewish worship rituals.  

To be sure; these things aren’t bad in themselves; but they were being put forth as a requirement of being a Christian. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he fought against this vigorously with venom and intensity. WHY?

Because the minute we make our salvation about OUR behaviors – we see the cross of Christ lose its power. If we need Jesus and then we need to observe these religious rituals in order to be “acceptable” to God – then ultimately we are saying that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough – that we need to save ourselves. 

Ok… but doesn’t God want us to avoid sin; doesn’t He call us to grow in Him – to follow Him? Yes – but as an outpouring of our gratitude and devotion to Him for completely changing our destiny and identity. We obey Christ not to make ourselves acceptable to HIm – we obey BECAUSE HE has made us acceptable to Him.  

You are already forgiven; already loved; already given grace; already redeemed; already shown God’s plan; already been sealed with God’s Holy Spirit; now you obey out of gratitude and because there is nowhere else to turn where you can find real life.  

Let me see if I can make it simpler…

“Religion” teaches us we need to obey TO receive Christ (Phariseeism), or Allah’s mercy (Islam), or Enlightenment (Buddhism); or nirvana (Hinduism); or godhood (mormonism), or membership to the exclusive club of people being saved (Jehovah’s Witness)….

Christianity teaches us we need to obey because we’ve received Christ. We have received real life in Him – and so we follow now out of devotion and a desire to not let anything come between us!!!  We live out our new identity with Him because ultimately there is no better life offered to us than this!!!

I’m parking on this thought today because there is an aspect of Christianity that involves effort. In fact this is what prolific christian author and philosopher Dallas willard wrote: “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning…”

We are called as Christians to follow the Master. We are called to try. But not to make God pleased – but because we have a new master who loves us and calls us to follow Him! In Ephesians – especially later in the letter – we will see Paul begin to challenge us. He will call us to some radical living. He will set out standards that may require difficult changes and yet what He proposes is truly better than anything the world has to offer – and it is possible because we have God’s Holy Spirit!

But we must start where we have been – at being loved by God. Everything starts there and then grows.  

My hope is that this knowledge of you being loved and secure in Christ – will well up in your soul and bring you much freedom. You are loved my friend.  

Have a great week and be reminded of this powerful life changing truth!!!

Pastor RyanWha