Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why Loving Jesus Is More Than A Religion

Jefferson Bethke's poem on YouTube, Why I hate Religion But Love Jesus, continues to inspire people - negatively and positively. I think that most of the negative reaction spins from a misunderstanding due to people's own traditions. I want to point to two responses that show case the difference between how Bethke's worldview and Atheism and Roman Catholicism. In case you missed my first post on Bethke's poem, please watch his video below

As for A Roman Catholic version, watch this one:

I see a fundamental difference between this video and Betheke's. This particular YouTuber is arguing that the only way you can have a relationship with Jesus is through guidance from the Roman Catholic Church. This was one of the main points of contention that started the Protestance reformation and after almost 500 years it is still relevant. Did Jesus really give us all we need to get to God or do we need more? The Reformer's answer to that is question was "Yes", so is Betheke's and so is mine. And like Bethke, the Reformers were not saying Church is not necessary or important, but that we don't need the traditions of men or to be self-righteous. We don't need a chorelist of do's and don'ts because God can and will help us to obey his commands but obeying his commands is not what saves us because none of can be sinless and perfect. Jesus is the only way - not Jesus plus your keeping church sacrements and following the Pope. Betheke is simply learned that what Jesus said is true and unfortunately many church-going people, let-alone non-Christians, miss this point.

23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” - John 4:23-24

As for an Atheistic comment, you can watch the following video. Be forewarned it contains profane language and is most definitely not safe for work (NSFW).

Like every atheist that I've ever encountered, this man is unable to see a difference between having a relationship with Christ and with Religion. I think Jefferson Bethke gets the difference.  Bethke is advocating not ritually attending church or working for others as a to-do-list to please other people or to earn your way into God. He's talking about surrendering your life to Jesus and putting yourself at His disposal because you love Him. I totally agree with Bethke. The closer you get to Jesus, the more you see what you are - and it's not pretty. When TheAmazingAtheist hears Christians talk of a relationship with Christ he reveals that he thinks that means Jesus is like some Pal, or Buddy, you can sit down with and "play XBox" or have brewskies with. I think a lot of people make that mistake. What the Bible teaches is that "relationship" means "Lord" and "servant". We obey and worship Him.  I don't know the last time you worshiped the dude you play XBox with, but I doubt you would. What does the Bible says that relationship should look like and on which it is based? I'd argue that all 66 books of the canonical Bible answers this question but I will offer two of those passages.

.18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
   says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
   they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
   they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:1-10

The Bible very clearly tells us that Jesus is our only way to turn away the wrath of a holy God. Who deserves eternal damnation and punishment for their sins?  ALL OF US.

 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.  - Romans 3:212-25

That is why we need a savior. Someone to take the punishment we deserve,. No one in your Church can do that. It's either going to be you atoning for your sins or it's gonna be Jesus. You wouldn't survive paying such a debt. It takes the grace and mercy of God to see this, understand this, let alone accept it. It goes against every fiber of human ego and self-centeredness. Was there something special about you or good in you that caused Jesus to die for you in your place? Nope (Back to Ephesians 2). God chose to do it for us even when we didn't know we need it and didn't ask Him to do it. Should you love Jesus more than anyone or anything else? Yup. But what else did Jesus say? He tells us to love our parents  and families and treat them well. I wonder if TheAmazingAtheist has read all of the Gospels? I ask because if he had, wouldn't he know that he misunderstood Matthew 10:32-29. Jesus was not saying that you should ignore or mistreat your family because you love him. How do I know?

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
   8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
   but their hearts are far from me.

9 They worship me in vain;

   their teachings are merely human rules.’” - Matthew 15:3-9

How could Jesus, a scant 5 Chapters later chastise the religious leaders of his day for teaching people ditching their obligations to their families to perform religious ritual if that is what he had taught in Matthew 10? Let me help you: He didn't. Even the most skeptical person wouldn't really be crazy enough to try to argue that Matthew 10 and Matthew15 are contradictory and mutually exclusive and no one noticed for 2000 years - given that it was is written by the same author - regardless if you reject that it was the Apostle Matthew. Please, let's try to stay consistent. 

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