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Is Organized Religion The Same As Following Jesus?

 

(Note: This article is the response I posted on a forum that I participate in. Several people were grilling me because I donít see following Jesus and organized religion as the same thing.)

Wow! How am I even supposed to answer all the posts that were directed to me without writing a novel? I could take the time to answer each one of your posts but the truth is your pretty much set on the point of view that organized religion is where its at. And unless you receive any revelation from Christ to the contrary, all your views of scripture and Jesus are skewed through the lens of organized religion. It wouldn't matter how well I articulated an answer, when your view of Jesus and the scriptures is through the lens of religion all scriptures are stretched and contorted so that they support that point of view. I speak from experience, because I used to be a STRONG defender of organized religion.

I don't believe most people who hold to organized religion are bad. I don't even think God feels that way about them. I just don't think organized religion is God's best. Just as Paul said that we served the shapes and shadows of things to come until the real thing came. We have the real thing, Jesus Christ. I don't believe all the programs, systems, and services of organized religion come close to the authentic life of Christ being expressed out in the real world in our daily lives. I also believe that organized religion tries to manufacture being the family of God rather than living in the reality of that.

Organized religion to me is like a club. (Like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.) They're nice organizations. I have no problem with them. If you want to belong to one, great! There are some neat things that go on within these clubs. But just as being a Boy Scout doesn't make a boy more of a boy, neither does organized religion make a Christian more of a Christian or the church (all who follow Christ) more the church. In fact, organized religion hijacked the work "church" and applied it to mean a formal meeting or a building or an organization rather than it being something that we are.

So, getting on track with the original topic of this thread, I just don't think Jesus had organized religion on His list of priorities. I believe that He had YOU and I way up on the top of His list of priorities. I think the most important thing to Jesus is not what church you do or do not attend, but rather that He has a relationship with you. I don't think Jesus' heart is that we be conformed to the doctrinal views of a certain Christian group, but rather that we be conformed to His image. I don't think Jesus' goal is to pack out a Sunday morning service, but that people see Him and know Him for who He is. I don't think your church attendance really means a "hill of beans" to the Son of God, but I believe that He cares a great deal about our hearts being connected with His. Just as the break down of the natural family breaks our hearts and God's too, I believe the break down in His spiritual family that has been brought about by the clergy/laity division breaks His heart. And I think He doesn't want us hiding our light under a bushel. Sadly, often times organized religion is a pretty big bushel.

 

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