In his book, “The End of Religion”, Pastor Bruxy Cavey writes, “If Jesus is God coming to us, and becoming one of us, then religion is redundant. Religion uses rules to force our steps, guilt to keep us in line, and rituals to remind us of our failure to live up to those rules. In doing this, religion adds more weight to those who are already burdened with life’s hardships.”
But Jesus said his burden was easy and light (Matthew 11:30). He didn’t come to add a bunch of rules to our lives. He came to simplify what man had overcomplicated. Jesus came to show we don’t need religion; all we need is God.
As someone who reads a lot of books, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with authors who add their “10 steps to a better life”, or “5 Keys to a closer prayer life”. We don’t need to add anything to the words of Jesus. That’s all meaningless religion. Jesus had one very simple command. He said, “Follow me”. It can’t be much simpler than that. If we follow Jesus, everything else in our lives will fall in line. Apparently, we need more. We refuse to believe it could be so simple because this very simplicity demands a lot from us.
We don’t need religion to learn how to follow Jesus. We just need to obey what He said. No ten ways, no five keys, no magical “secret”. All of these are a form of religion, and when it comes to following Christ, religion is useless. Jesus reserved His harshest words for the religious of His day. He called them snakes, hypocrites, and people who were dead inside (Matthew 23:33; Matthew 23:25; Matthew 23:27). Those aren’t terms of endearment. Knowing how Jesus felt about religion, why do we aspire to frame His teachings within the constructs of it?
Spiritual disciplines are excellent ways to draw closer to God, but they must never be misunderstood as being a requirement to know Him. Even perfect practice of every discipline will not get you into Heaven. Only a relationship with Jesus will get you in. Reading the Bible daily or even all the way through each year won’t do it either. The Bible could disappear tomorrow, and it wouldn’t change who Jesus is. We don’t follow a book. We follow the Son of God.
It’s easy in our Western world to get caught up in all the resources available to us. We have access to books, videos and movies, radio and podcasts, and, yes, a multitude of blogs telling us how to live a better Christian life. The truth is, we don’t need to learn how to be better Christians; we need to obey Jesus. It’s simple, light, and easy, exactly as He promised. Satan has done everything he can to convince us something so simple couldn’t possibly be the answer. We’ve allowed the devil to take the simplicity of the cross and bury it beneath a bunch of religious do’s, don’ts, rules, and regulations. We don’t need religion. We just need Jesus.