Last February, I got the amazing privilege to go see Shane & Shane perform a concert. David Nasser, an evangelist and writer, was with them and spoke to us that night during the intermission. He had so many wonderful things to say about Jesus and the Gospel, but I distinctly remember him saying something that really confused me. He said, "Jesus is not religion." Everyone in the crowd seemed to understand what he meant when he said that, but I, on the other hand, did not. When I went home last that night, I prayed and prayed over what that meant, but I never really got my answer.
After a couple of days, I brushed it off and stop worrying so much about it. Then, I went to NewSpring a few months later and Perry said the same thing that David Nasser did: "Jesus is not religion." He explained what he meant by it a little bit, but I was still lost in the clouds. I had always been told that when I loved Jesus, I was being religious. And people who judge others for their beliefs always say, he/she is "acting all 'religious.'" I've heard it a million times. So that's why I was so confused.
I wondered what was so wrong with being religious. I had always taken pride in my religion, so I couldn't understand how it was such a bad thing.
Later that week I was reading in Matthew about all the times Jesus stuck it to the Pharisees and Sadducees for their corruption and abuse of the scriptures. And then it hit me. Those big-shot "religious" guys were all messed up but they thought they had it all together. Jesus was and is RELATIONAL. Religion is not. That was the second best light bulb moment in my life. Second of course to my first encounter with Jesus!
Jesus IS NOT religion.
Religion says, "Do this, this, this, and, this and then you'll be acceptable."
Jesus says, "I knew you would never be good enough because of your sin, but I love you anyway. I love you enough to take your sin and make it my own."
All the other religions of the world are about what we have to do to get to it. Christianity is all about what JESUS did to get to us. Christianity is all about how JESUS RESCUED US. What a beautiful picture!
When Jesus came, he messed up religion. For the first time, it wasn't about certain steps you take to complete a process. It was about loving something so much that you couldn't stand the thought of living without it. And that's what he did for us. How amazingly and incredibly AWESOME is that!
We are blessed by the best. And if we don't want to be in God's presence here on Earth, why would we want to go to Heaven when we die? Like Perry said at the Easter service at NewSpring, "Hell is a place where you can have for an eternity what you wanted on Earth."
We have a choice to make. Jesus or religion.
I choose JESUS! And my deepest and most heartfelt prayer for you is that you will choose him, too. He didn't come to start a new religion. He came to bring us life.
Jesus died so we could live. So are we living?