In John 8 Jesus uttered the famous words, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” to a group of followers.
Incredibly, the people replied with indignation, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and we have never been in bondage to anyone.” Really? What about those 400 years in Egypt? What about the Roman empire that currently seems to think you are its subjects? These people were so blinded by their own religious pride that they couldn’t even see their own bondage.
I don’t see much freedom in today’s church either. Oh, like those listening to Jesus that day, we would protest that statement. But bondage is indeed abundant.
There is bondage to a religious system that requires us to toe the line or be cast aside. Fit in, say the right words, don’t question the status quo. We give lip service to the idea of grace, but it is obvious by how we treat those who don’t measure up we aren’t really serious. The cruel master of religion has left many casualties through the centuries.
But Jesus promised freedom. He acknowledged in the following verses that we are slaves to sin. That’s just a fact. “If you commit sin,” Jesus said, “Then you are a slave of sin.” The good news, though, is that the Son has the power to pardon, to free the slaves. No religion necessary, just a spiritual “emancipation proclamation.”
Religion leaves us guilty, condemned, and in bondage. Religion leaves us in denial, thinking we are the slaves of no man, not noticing then shackles on our hands and feet and hearts. Religion is the enemy of freedom in Christ. Religion is the antithesis to everything Jesus taught.
But don’t just walk away from religion empty handed and hard-hearted. Instead, embrace the true freedom – the unconditional pardon – only God’s Son can offer.
#1 by Erica on January 3, 2011 - 2:52 PM
The term, “Christian”, has a negative connotation for many. It started off as a negative term during the times of the early church and for many, it brings negative emotions today. After all of the ways Christians have treated others over the centuries – it is no wonder! For those reasons, I prefer to be called a Follower of Christ rather than a Christian. Heeding the words of Jesus is important if we are to love as He loved. As my pastor said in his benediction yesterday – Let us go out this week and befriend the prostitutes and lepers, knowing that we will anger the Pharisees (religious folks).
#2 by Dave Kirby on January 3, 2011 - 2:55 PM
Good point. Precisely why my site is called “Quitting Christianity”. It’s become a loaded word, full of preconceptions, both on the part of followers and non-followers.
Tell your pastor he’s my hero! Seriously!
#3 by Erica on January 4, 2011 - 8:38 AM
I will! This is the kind of attitude that attracted me to this fellowship. We are on a journey together and are far from perfect, but seeking to follow Him. My grandmother is another hero to me along this line. She owned a diner downtown (right across from a horse racing track) which was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She worked long hours but took time to look for drunks on the street at closing time – giving them her back room to sleep in overnight so they would have a safe place to dry out. I didn’t realize this until a number of the “down and out” attended her funeral and shared this with our family. For some years before she died, she also cooked breakfast regularly to take to an elderly blind man. There are many other stories about her. She truly had compassion and showed the love of Christ while at times being criticized by the religious at her church.