Organized religion has a very bad name. It wasn’t always like that. It used to be that people viewed the church as the stairway to God. Christ’s body on earth. People don’t think that any more. More often than not if you ask someone about their religion they will answer you like this: “I’m spiritual, but I have no use for organized religion.” I can think of two reasons why the church has lost the respect it used to have. One is because through political events the church lost its power. The church can no longer influence kings and nations as it used to. Secondly, people lost a good deal of their superstitious beliefs about the church. An edict of excommunication from the pope used to be the height of condemnation and terror. Who really cares today, though?
I am not sad that the organized church has lost its power. I am a little sad that it has lost its respect, but that’s really her own fault anyway. You know what the real problem with organized religion is? Nothing. Organized religion, if it be true, is great. The problem is the adherents to religion. The greatest problem with the organized Christian religion is people who love it.
The Pharisees had this exact problem. They loved Judaism. They loved it so much they devoted themselves to it day and night. They followed every single law and a whole bunch they made up, too. If Judaism was the door it heaven, they had all the keys. Only one problem. Judaism was not the door. Christ was. They loved their religion. Christ came to stir things up. They hated him.
Christians have the same problem. We love Christianity. We know all the right songs and read all the right books. We show up for every single meeting and faithfully condemn those who don’t. We follow every single law and a whole bunch that we made up. If Christianity is the door into heaven we are set. It’s too bad Christianity isn’t the door.
What is Christianity? Nothing, really. The word is not in the Bible. God does not talk about devoting yourself to a religion. He talks about devoting yourself to a person. The message much of the church needs to hear today is this: “Don’t follow Christianity! Follow Christ!” The Pharisees chose Judaism over Yahweh. Today we are choosing Christianity over Christ. We choose the religion before the Man when we dress up nice on a Sunday and refuse to feed the poor in our city. We choose Christianity over Christ when we listen to evangelical sermons and go home never intending to tell the world about Christ. We love our Faith more than our Father when we follow all the rules without trying to meet the One who made the rules. And this is dangerous. This practice defiles the reputation of Christ and his church on earth. Worse, it jeopardizes your eternal future. He who loves God in Christ will be saved, not he who worships the idol we made that kinda looks like him.