“. . . tradition which you have handed down; . . .” Mark 7:13
Guilt, condemnation, shame and defeat are a few of the words Christians use to describe their relationship with God. One has to ask, with the extravagant grace and unconditional love God lavishes on us, how can that be?
Every day sincere Christ followers are pushed to the brink of quitting faith. They say things like, “I’m sick and tired of never being able to be good enough,” “The Christian life just doesn’t work for me,” “Where did I fail?” The problem isn’t Jesus, the content of scripture, or personal fervency. It’s something more subtle, sometimes unrecognizable.
It’s a strange mixture of religion and grace. Religion is our feeble effort to make ourselves acceptable to God. But our efforts only serve to separate us from the very thing we seek to achieve.
Yet, many have been seduced by the false hope of religion. Like the voices of the Pharisees coming from the shadows in the crowd, the deceptive whispers of religion convince us there is something more we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God, that it can’t be possible that God expects nothing of us after we’ve been delivered. Radical trust seems too simple.
So, an affair begins, one who is married to Jesus begins spending time with religion, and soon the marriage is poisoned. Religion is a home-wrecker that takes more and more of our time, energy, interest and love from the one who deserves it. Religion won’t be content until every good thing in our union with Christ is destroyed. Many believers are having a sleazy affair with religion. Every time we make up our mind to break it off, religion is there to talk us out of it.
Religion heaps on the guilt; “you should be reading the Bible more, and what about prayer, you know you are not praying enough, if you loved God, you would do more of both, but what about the world around you? It’s going to hell, and here you sit reading and praying. You must not care, if you did, you’d do more.” Relentlessly, religion piles on the shame, “Some kind of Christian you are, don’t you care about the students in your church? You should be working to reach them, and what about the needy? You need to be more selfless. God couldn’t possibly be pleased with the way you’re living, if you want Him to love you, then you need to be doing more.”
Do you see the problem? When we try to determine our worth based on how much we do, we will always feel condemned. God wants to deliver you from your tawdry affair with religion.
You can’t reason with religion. The only way out is to say to religion, “Enough already! God loves me, and that’s enough already.”