How Religious “Leaders” Distort the Message of Jesus

In this blog, I’m going to debunk two common myths about the Christian Religion. The first has to do with the purpose of Christianity. The second has to do with the concept of Spiritual Growth itself.

Some of you may be wondering why I’d do this. Full disclosure, I am a Christian. While it’s not my business what you believe, I think ANY belief (religious or otherwise) should be based on knowledge instead of ignorance. That said, I’ve noticed that a lot of people who dislike or even hate Christianity don’t understand it very well. So, I’m writing this for two reasons.

First, to debunk a common myth about what Christianity is and why it’s still damn important. Second, to hopefully show the REAL difference between Christianity as a modern Religion, and Christianity as a path to Spiritual Growth. I’ll start by debunking this myth…

If I Can Be Good Without Christianity, Why Do I Need It?

This question is actually based on a faulty assumption and therefore can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” It assumes that the purpose of Christianity is to become a “good” person.

But the purpose of the Christian Religion is MUCH more positive and empowering. Check out what Jesus said during His famous Sermon on The Mount…

(I’ve highlighted the parts relevant to this discussion)

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

-Matthew 7:22

Notice the FIRST ^ sentence. What do we typically call someone who calls Jesus “Lord?” That’s right. We call them a Christian. In fact, the official profession of the Christian faith is…

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

– Romans 10:9

Now, if Jesus himself said not everyone who calls Him “Lord, Lord,” will enter the Kingdom of heaven, that ought to give us our first clue about why he came. Clearly, Christianity isn’t about what you call yourself or even what you call Jesus. Confessing Jesus as “Lord,” means nothing unless you believe it in your heart. But what does it mean to believe something in your heart?

Let’s go back to Jesus’s statement from The Sermon on the Mount…

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

-Matthew 7:22

Notice He says that only those who “doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What does Jesus mean by this? Notice that the people He’s talking about have come to Him, CALLING Him “Lord, Lord,” and bragging that they have…

  1. Prophesied in His name
  2. Cast out devils in His name.
  3. Done “Many Wonderful Works,” in His name.

Yet, Jesus says “I never knew you…” and sends them away, even calling them workers of iniquity.

This is AFTER He said that only those who “doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Sounds to me like these people doing plenty of things in His Name.

But this is how we KNOW that the purpose of becoming a Christian is NOT to do good works. Clearly, Jesus had something else in mind when He said “the will of my Father….”

What’s the REAL Purpose of the Christian Religion?

This is Jesus’s FINAL PRAYER before He was arrested and crucified…

(Again, I’ve highlighted the parts relevant to this discussion…)

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.”

And, later on in the prayer, He says this…

“19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

Now that’s ^ about as clear as you can get. Jesus, being the flesh-and-blood manifestation of the Creator, came to reunite mankind with their Creator.

THAT is the purpose of the Christian Religion. To reunite us with our Creator.

Now, I understand Religious “Leaders” often tell a different story. Many of them have used the Commandants of the Bible as a tool to control and manipulate people. But Jesus, having another goal in mind, had his own problems with such people…

Jesus Was Killed in the Name of Religion

In Jesus’s day, the Jewish people were ruled by Romans. But they were also governed by a group of Religious Leaders called “Pharisees. ” Ironically, Jesus’s biggest complaint against the Pharisees (and the Scribes who worked with them) was similar to the complaint made by anti-religious people today.

Check out this passage from the Gospel of Matthew…

2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

-Matthew 23:2-4

The Pharisees taught people that, in order to inherit the Kingdom of God, they had to keep hundreds of wearisome Ceremonial Laws. Many of these Laws were unworkable for people in certain occupations. Others couldn’t even afford to buy their temple sacrifices. Such Laws eroded people’s hopes to become “worthy” of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. Other Laws discourage people from acting compassionately towards their fellow man.

For example, Jesus healed people on the Sabbath day. The Scribes and Pharisees rebuked him for this, because it was against their Religious Laws. Jesus responded to them by saying…

“15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

-Luke 13:15-16

Or, when Jesus’s disciplines were picking wheat and eating it on the sabbath day, the Pharisees criticized them for “working” on the Sabbath. But Jesus said to them…

“27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

-Mark 2:27-28

It was statements like this ^ that put Jesus at odds with the Pharisees. He was attacking the very tool which they’d been using to control people AND to make themselves rich from Temple tithes, gifts and offerings.

The Pharisees eventually had Jesus executed for this trouble-making. All in the name of their “Religion.” Jesus wanted the Pharisees about where this kind of religion would lead them…

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”

– Matthew 23:13

Notice how we says “ye neither go in yourselves.” Jesus was telling them that this is NOT the way into the Kingdom of Heaven. Likewise, any Pastor or Bible Teacher who burdens YOU with God’s Commandments, instead of midwifing you into a relationship with your Creator, is heaping a great burden on you.

They’re NOT preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they’re NOT helping you grow spiritually.

So, if the purpose of the Christian Religion is to unite you with your Creator, what’s the real goal of Spiritual Growth?

Spiritual Growth is the Expression of God’s Spirit Living in You

If the purpose of the Christian Religion is to unite you to your Creator, Spiritual Growth is the expression and expansion of that union. And the more God’s Spirit expresses itself through you, the more God’s Greatness manifests itself in your life.

As this happens the whole “being a good person,” will take care of itself in the most natural and empowering way. WITHOUT the need for burdensome religious commandments, routines or ceremonies.

That’s why Jesus said…

“27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Why was his “burden” light? Because He came to reconnect people with the source of all life, all goodness, all wisdom and all power.

All of Jesus’s miracles, all His acts of courage, His wisdom and His compassion, ALL of this was an EXPRESSION of God’s Spirit living in Him and through Him.

And once YOU make this kind of growth your first priority, everything else in your life will take care of itself. And that’s why the Master himself said…

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

-Matthew 6:33

Sure, you can get a long way in this world without seeking the Kingdom of God first…or at all for that matter. But the foundation you build on will determine whether your success leads to personal salvation, or personal ruin.

-Stay Awesome,

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