Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On a Poem

There has already been a lot to talk about over the poem 'Why I love Jesus and Hate Religion'. The reviews, while mixed, have been there and this has been a hot topic of conversation around college campuses and high school youth groups for the past week and then some. And I feel like I should say something.

Jesus came to fulfill all the law and the prophets; not abolish them. In Scripture, He says that 'For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.' Matt. 5:17-18 ESV

And again, moreover Jesus came to BUILD a church that He would sustain through His word in Peter. Mathew 16:18 ESV

And there are many more examples of how Jesus cares deeply for His institution of the church. The book of Acts is almost all about the early church and apostles dealing with issues; one issue is false religion or religiosity.

In my opinion, THIS is what the poet was talking about. And I'll spare the line-by-line exegetical exposé on why he's wrong and why this doesn't jive with the Bible. But the truth of the matter is,the guy was just pissed at the falsity and pride he saw. He saw somethings that Jesus saw in His day and what He continues to see and is grieved by.

And Jesus entered in the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you make it a den of robbers." And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant, (Matthew 21:12-15 ESV)

And again in Luke.

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. (Luke 12:1, 2 ESV)

And we see here also, Jesus used these people as examples.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)

In Dietrich Bonhoeffer's work, The Cost of Discipleship, he takes an exegetical approach into the beatitudes that is mind-numbingly difficult to understand. For chapter five, he talks about the extraordinary nature of the Christian's life. For six, he describes how one cannot be aware of this extraordinary quality for fear of gaining some sort of religious pride in it. He shows us the single-hearted righteousness of the believer. For seven, he speaks to how we cannot believe we can or should be separated from the world. This leads to pride and judgement; religiosity.

That is what the poet is speaking out against. Not so much that Jesus hates religion, though he does say that and there is merit in saying he should take lessons in how to articulate what he believes theologically; but what the key message is speaks to the same things Jesus did not support. Pride in prayer and worship, the temple or church being made a shell of it's former self, and SURELY not a superiority complex. We cannot believe that we are above anyone else, because we are just as bad as anyone else. But Christ's righteousness has been imparted to us.

The guy, in his ideological stance, is correct I believe. Jesus hates religiosity. He denounced Pharisees and shook the religious leaders of the day to their utmost cores. But he is also wrong in saying Jesus hates religion; He made it and Jesus doesn't make crap.

The church is the bride of Christ and the bridegroom doesn't hate His bride. He does, however hate an infectious cancer that has progressed in her. And He, as the great physician, will cure this cancer. He will right all wrongs; He will end all pain.

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