Monday, October 14, 2013

Jesus vs. Religion

Have you ever felt like your religion was dead?  Ever sensed that this whole God thing had to be better than what you have?

Consider this-
Romans 7:6, "Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit."

δουλεύειν ἡμᾶς ἐν καινότητι πνεύματος καὶ οὐ παλαιότητι γράμματος.(1)

καινότητι
Look at the word "new".  It is the Greek word- καινότητι
It is renewal, not simply an experience similar to the past, but a qualitatively different one. In the NT used in a moral sense, “in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4), meaning in a qualitatively new life with the indwelling of Christ.(2)  Quality of life is key here.

Many people want a religion, "Just give me the marching orders & I will do it."  Well, God gave us 613 marching orders & all it did was show us that we all fail miserably.  Leave me a comment if you want to have fun with this.
The fact is-rules are meant to be broken.  The Law (613) aroused in us a desire to break these rules.  We have, what Jewish people call, the "evil inclination" (יֵצֶר הַרַע).

Could it be that we want a list of rules, so we can compare ourselves to others?  So, when God comes to judge us, you can say, "You should accept me because I am not as bad as Joe over there." Or, "Certainly, I am no Adolph, surely I can get in the door."

Therefore God has given us something much greater, a much greater quality of life.  A life in which we can follow the better Law, the Law of the Spirit (aka The Law of Love). God has loosed the chains of the Law, and given us freedom, kicked out the hovering tutor, and has let us grow up to follow the Spirit.

What is the Law of the Spirit?  It is the Law of Love.  I am still in the midst of a four year study on the Law.  And in my observation, this Law of Love was always there, but people, being of flesh, missed it in the 613.  You can see it boldly in Deuteronomy 6, and in the Law explained in Exodus 23:1-6.  It is everyhere!  Abraham got it, Rahab the prostitute got it, David got it, and Jesus is this Law.

So, instead of looking to a cold religion & rules in order to appease God, run to Jesus, embrace Him & follow is greater ways, follow his Spirit.

Do you want new life to your religion?  Look to Jesus and walk a quality life, one lead by His Spirit.

Objection-
Jeff, I know a lot of Christians who are very legalistic & are the most unloving people I have seen.  How can this be true?
Well, the focus here is Jesus.  Yes, there have been Crusades in the name of Jesus, abusive pastors in the name of Jesus, nasty parents & killjoys in the name of Jesus.  That is the problem, that is exactly what happens when people follow religion (even in Jesus' name), and leave following Jesus in the dust.  In addition, we don't follow people, we follow Jesus, keeping our eyes on Him, the author & perfecter of our faith.  Do Christians still sin?  Are some, you know whats?  Yes & yes.  But I, we need to focus on Jesus, and let him define what it means to be a Christian.  He is the author of the Law of Love.

Footnotes
(1) Aland, B., Aland, K., Black, M., Martini, C. M., Metzger, B. M., & Wikgren, A. (1993). The Greek New Testament (4th ed.) (420). Federal Republic of Germany: United Bible Societies.
(2) Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

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