Yesterday, I wrapped up my post with a question:
What part of following Jesus Christ, or if you prefer, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, can be confined to a man-made religion?
I mentioned that I’d be interested to hear your thoughts; I’d still like to hear them. I also said that today I’d share some of mine, which I’m about to do, and we’ll see what the Word of God has to say on the subject in the coming days.
As for my initial thoughts, I think that “religion” as we discussed it yesterday, has little or nothing to do with following Jesus Christ, unless it acts as a catalyst for us to learn more about following Him. Here’s what I mean by that:
Not long ago, I was given some things that a particular group of Christians expect of a Pastor (or whatever any particular group may want to call it). A Pastor should always wear a suit and tie on Sunday morning, he should never make a joke or be light-hearted about anything, for that is not worshipful. A Pastor should never ask a rhetorical question in a sermon, for that isn’t reverent, and someone might actually feel comfortable enough to offer an answer. A Pastor should always stand up on a platform behind a lectern (“in the Pulpit”) for not to do so isn’t worshipful. It is also irreverent and unworshipful (I’m not quite sure if that’s even a word) for him to challenge the congregation (isn’t that called “exhortation” in the Bible?). Oh yes, and reverence requires several periods of silence within the worship service. Other items that are not reverent or worshipful are things like talking before the service, having modern music, and changing the Order of Service in any way.
If I’m entirely honest with you, when I see these things in writing here, it is really hard for me to take any of it seriously; this is ridiculous, yet the person giving out the rules was deadly serious…
So were the Pharisees in the Gospels as they spouted off a litany of man-made rules and regulations to Jesus. This is religion in action, and it sometimes acts in direct opposition to God’s purpose, and here’s how: Within the group whose rules I’ve just shared, everyone under the age of 50 has left; the average age is over 70. They very much want church outreach in their community, so they have an after-school program for children. There are some parents who are happy to take advantage of free child care, but not one of them attends that church, nor are they ever going to. Their membership has declined over the last several years by about 75 percent, some of those say they will never attend any church again, so badly were they treated when they expressed different ideas about things…
See what I mean?
While this may be an extreme case, it is by no means a rare one; there are boarded up church buildings all over this part of the country as a result of this sort of thing, and the one I’ve mentioned here has been advised to close up by multiple people, including myself.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of how Jesus reacted to religious rules over the next two days, and next week, let’s see how Paul dealt with similar issues- see you then.