Why I hate religion, but love Jesus

It's all over the internet. And by "all over the internet" I mean I saw it on facebook once or twice. To be honest, I only frequent a few places on the internet regularly, and everything else is just google searches for how long to cook rice (was it ten minutes or twenty?? Josh says twenty but I don't trust him....) or to find this week's DVD releases. So if something pops up on facebook more than once, I'm highly intrigued - or highly annoyed. Depending on which, I may look into it.
After the second or third time this video showed up, I honestly had no interest in watching it. Sorry. But then someone else posted this blog:

Does Jesus Hate Religion? Kinda, Sorta, Not Really.

At this point I was intrigued, but then I forgot about it for like, two weeks... anyways, I don't even know if it is relevant anymore. But I went and googled it because I was thinking about it today.

I watched the video first, and I have to say, I loved it. The message was fairly clear, the rhyming made it more appealing to the poet in me, and the guy seems super passionate. I wouldn't go so far as to say "Jesus hates religion" because I, personally, do not speak for the Lord unless it is something he has made very clear. It's too bold a statement for me to be comfortable to make it, but I won't lie - I totally get what this video is trying to say.
So I went to read the blog post, and I did not like it. You know why? It seemed self-righteous. I found it haughty and irritating. No offense to the person who wrote it, I don't know that person or anything, but I the words contained within were not well-received by my self. 
One of the first questions asked/issues addressed by Kevin DeYoung was "is it true?" to which I ask "what are you talking about?" but then I ask "do you mean, 'is it biblically accurate?'"
The blog is stuck at the first line, "What if I told you, Jesus came to abolish religion?"
This is indeed a bold statement. I don't personally believe that Jesus came to abolish religion. At least, not at face value. The blog tears this line apart, and I understand why. DeYoung put his own connotations on those words, just like I am about to do. I may be wrong in what the writer of the poem meant, but I like to think that I am being slightly more understanding.
If you consider that, in the old testament, people were given many, many rules to follow, and that they were to follow them to the letter (read Leviticus, it's intense), then consider that when Jesus died for our sins, the church of that time was highly corrupt and therefore we were bought with his blood, it kind of makes sense. Jesus was greater than the religion of his time, where the entire priesthood was corrupt. This was reminiscent of some of the "religion" which we see today; people screaming from the rooftops that "God hates fags" and bombing abortion clinics in the name of Christ. These people in Jesus' day had the facade of religion when underneath, they were using it for evil.
Now maybe Jefferson Bethke thought about these things and maybe he didn't, but this is what I thought of. Apparently the blog writer thought differently. He says it "depends on your definition of religion," and that "Bethke sees religion as a man made attempt to earn God’s favor." But religion has a different meaning for me. When someone says religion they usually mean something more like denomination or indoctrination. DeYoung deduces that if Bethke means what we think he means, then yes, it's technically true. Then he goes on to say, in more words, that since the exact definition of religion is different that technically, Bethke is wrong...because people associate religion with rules (negatively), but Jesus himself told us to follow rules, so many people are looking for christianity to be the religion without rules. Which, it is, and isn't.

Unless we define the word to suit our purposes, there is simply no biblical grounds for saying Jesus hated religion.

It definitely isn't something I would say, but if you think of religion the way Bethke does, then it makes sense.
Time for a story!!

When I was 13, we started going to church. I had always known God to be real, and that was the extent of my spirituality. We went to the same church for three or four years, and while I loved and respected most of them greatly, I was very mislead while I was there.
I am NOT trying to speak ill of this church, it just really wasn't for me. They were extremely indoctrinated, and while I was there I learned a few things;
  •  Women have to wear skirts, or they are sinning. 
  • Women cannot cut their hair, or they are sinning. 
  • If you miss church more than one Sunday in a row without giving someone an excuse, you are "backsliding." That term was thrown around far more than I was comfortable with. 
  • Every other denomination is false and therefore, sinners, going to hell probably, etc. 
  • You could tell just by looking at someone whether or not they were saved. 
They did not necessarily ever say these exact words to me. This was the gist of the environment. Then again, they might have - I don't really remember that well...maybe I was just in a bad place socially and read too far into everything. I don't know. I just know that I basically spent this part of my life thinking that Christianity meant a huge list of rules that I basically knew I would NEVER be able to follow in its entirety. I hated going to church, and I basically just stopped going. After a year or so, I tried to get back into it, but then this huge dramatic ordeal happened. There was some convention that apparently only someone legally affiliated with this denomination could attend. Someone else had taken herself and a few members of her own church, who apparently wasn't affiliated and everything just blew up from there. I remember being so angry that any church would discriminate against people trying to go to a church convention. I couldn't imagine that Jesus, who was known for "hanging out" with the lowest of society, would ever tell one of his followers that they couldn't come too see him perform his miracles.
I never stopped believing in God and I always had this hunger for His truth.
When I was 18, my husband and I started going to the church that his parents often went to. I loved it! The worship was great, they never told me I couldn't read Harry Potter or that since I was wearing jeans, I was sinning. In fact, they never spoke ill of anyone who was sinning really, except to say that this person needed to be prayed for...mostly when they had asked for it. My favorite part is that they were non-denominational. It wasn't until the pastor actually talked one Sunday about how it's not about a "list of rules," but more about following Jesus with all your heart, that I realized the things I had absorbed before were not correct. I don't mean to condemn them for this or anything - I just wished that I had been informed more that the importance lies in what is within your heart more than anything.
Knowing my background, you could probably see how I understand what point Bethke is making.
Overall I think that DeYoung is thinking that, since Bethke is emphasizing a focus on loving Christ first and foremost, that he is trying to say that that is the ultimate in Christianity and there is nothing else involved; that it should be mentioned the importance of repentance and sanctification; but I don't think that needs to be emphasized here. I believe that if you open your heart to Jesus and ask for his guidance, He will lead you there. He is in control and can help you to find the importance of repentance and sanctification. After all, the bible says,

John 14:6
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."


  1. great interpretation...I watched the video for the first time tonight and loved it the first time, then watched it again and as a Christian felt a little offended. But then I started to think about the things in my church that bug me and his poem started to make a little sense. It's the nonsensical rules like babies out of wedlock are not given baby showers and other silly rules. To me that baby is a gift from God, no matter the circumstances surrounding its conception. Every baby should be celebrated equally...Anyways, always love to read your blog posts :)

  2. Its funny bc when this video came up on BBC, I referenced the UPC church as well as the reason why I "get" this video. Obviously the guy couldve chosen his words a little more carefully, but as silly as it sounds, I think it wouldnt have flowed as well poetically. I think his heart is in the right place, honestly. And like I said, spending all the years we did in a fanatical church, thinking every day that no matter how much I cried out to God, I was not saved unless I was wearing a dress, I get it.


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