Are you in need of a rest from religion?
I know coming from an ordained minister that question may seem a little strange, but for many people, the “religion” part of our faith is borderline tiresome and sometimes unfulfilling. Why? Because often, the religion part demands that we keep jumping through a set of established hoops to prove ourselves worthy of our faith to each other, ourselves, and God. Because of this, we are never at rest or peace with our faith.
When Jesus began his teachings, he sent the “religious” folk of the time into a veritable panic and rage. To the Pharisees, he was considered a heretic, a blasphemer, a rebel without a cause. Here was this common man claiming to be the son of God and a replacement for all current and future religions. Here was a man going from town to town telling the public the “good news,” which was that you’re not saved by your good works but by God’s (His) Grace alone. Jesus didn’t follow the rules and even publicly scoffed the Pharisees for their dogmatic, systematized beliefs.
We all know that the Sabbath was set aside as a day of rest, but in those days, there were actually 39 regular activities you could not do on the Sabbath. In Mark, there is an incident where the Pharisees try to trip Jesus up by sending him a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath. They wanted to see if Jesus would break the Sabbath to heal this man’s ailment. This angered Jesus because people would not use the day God set aside for restoration and healing to help others. They had clouded their compassion and reason with rules and could no longer see the forest for the trees.
Unfortunately, although it feels like we’ve come so far, in many ways, we’re right back where we started. Many of today’s “religions” are still steeped in the same types of rules and regulations. They are buttoned up and tied down in legalistic details. Why? Because it’s easier to manage and judge that way. Salvation becomes a step-by-step process that we control. That way, we can rely on ourselves to get to heaven. However, Jesus finished this way of thinking and believing on the cross. He gave us rest from religion and a real and unfettered pathway to Him.