As you look back over the last two thousand years of human history, you’d be hard pressed to find another institution that has done as much good – and as much harm – as the church.
Followers of Jesus Christ have been the source of incredible sacrifice, selfless charity, and caring acts of love and service to those around them. Christians are largely responsible for the end of slavery and resistance to myriad acts of tyranny and oppression over the centuries.
At the same time, the institution of the church – the religion of Christianity – has also been the source of countless deaths, persecutions, and acts of atrocity. The organized church has used its power to hold people in fear and bondage to an authority not given to it by God. From popes to pulpits, organized Christianity has been used by self-serving men to achieve their own agendas at the expense of all else.
But you know the worst thing, the most insidious thing, about religion? It’s not the acts of murder and tyranny it has committed. It’s not the innocent people burned at the stake or the other atrocities. The worst thing about religion is its effect on individual hearts.
You see, religion will lull you into a false sense of security. It will make you think you are okay before God, when your heart is actually far from Him. Religion leads you to believe that following the right rules, saying the right things, bowing before the right altars, will buy you security with God. And that’s an evil far greater than any crusade or inquisition.
Religion is not just misguided. It’s not just off track. Religion is the enemy of the kingdom of God. Religion is the enemy of the true body of Christ, and its greatest act of violence is against the very teachings of the Jesus it claims to follow. Religion’s greatest atrocity is against the human heart.
But you don’t have to submit.
I urge you, in light of God’s wonderful grace, to run from religion. Run as fast as you can. But don’t just run away from religion, run into the arms of the Savior who gave His life for you. Run into a relationship with a very personal God who wants to be intimately acquainted with you. Run into the arms of a loving Jesus who didn’t come to start a religion, but to free us from its nomian chains.
That’s a grip from which no crusade, no rule, no religion can tear you away.