On this day, Good Friday, I woke up, feeling both ashamed and humbled, loved and cherished, thankful and remorseful, hungry and fed, and far more blessed than I deserve. Why would anyone do what Jesus did, suffer the way He suffered and die a death so horrible that my mind cannot wrap around it. That question can be answered in one word. Love. My love for Christ has nothing to do with religion or gatherings or congregations. It has no beginnings in tradition or repetition. It comes because Christ first loved me. Enough to die a terrifying and horrific death for my sake even though I was a full blown sinner. There was nothing religious about the death of Jesus. It was prophesied from way before that a Savior would come. The lamb to the slaughter. It was a gift from God, who loves at a depth that no man’s heart can understand, even if they know and follow Him. Religion has taken on a life of it’s own that, in some cases, has little or nothing to do with the teachings of Christ. There is ritual to complete and rules that must be followed in order to be a part of it. There are repetitive gestures and misinterpretations of what Jesus has said. Groups like KKK call themselves religious. Groups who bomb abortion clinics call themselves religious. Men, women and children who strap bombs to themselves and blow up others call themselves religious. Churches who talk about what great things they’ve done and then turn away those who come to them seeking help call themselves religious. Jesus wasn’t religious. He was just Jesus. The Savior, the Messiah, the Holy son of God. He didn’t conform to the traditions of the world, but set the example for others to follow so that eternal life could be available to everyone. Everyone. Not just this church or that sect or this mission or that cause, but everyone. He gave His life and shed His blood for sinners. Just going to church or to communion, taking mission trips or giving money does not open the doors of heaven for us to walk through. There is only one way. He is the way. He is the truth. He is the life. Without Him, there is no hope of eternal life. But saying that I know Jesus is not enough. Proving it is required. If we walk a good life, give to the poor, help the needy, and show the world how religious we are, we have accomplished nothing if, at the core, there is no love. Love doesn’t cross the street to avoid a homeless man, a prostitute or a drug addict. It doesn’t turn it’s back on those in need and it doesn’t just surface on Sunday. When Jesus communed with the people, He did it in the midst of sinners. He walked among those who had no hope, who had nothing. And He loved them. None of us are good. Not even when we are being good are we good. Sin is the blackness of evil that follows every step we take, just waiting for the moment when it can trip us and cause us to fall flat on our face. No matter how devout we claim to be, falling on our face is part of the journey that we are on because unlike Jesus, we are not perfect. The church can’t save us. The community can’t save us. Our family and friends, though supportive and loving, cannot save us, and most certainly, we cannot save ourselves. No matter where we go or what we try to accomplish, if Jesus is not at the center, then any good that could be done will fall short of what we could do if Jesus was at the center. There is only one way to be saved and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. I am a follower of Christ and owe everything I am or ever hope to be to Him… and to Him, not religion, I give all the glory. For religion, after all, is just a man-made word and I have my hope in that which man has no hand in. The grave could not hold Him, Satan could not bind Him and He rose, conquering sin and making a way for all people to live in Glory with Him. He lives and He’s coming for us. What Jesus did, He did out of love and religion had nothing to with it. Praise His Holy Name!
Colossians 2:8 ~ Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.