Some people think the more religious they are the closer they are to God. Jesus however teach us that following religious rules is not what God wants from us. He wants us to have love and compassion towards others.
In my article Spiritual and Not Religious, we saw that being spiritual instead of religious is something that Jesus taught. We also saw that there is a big difference between the two.
Now we will look at one of the reasons why religion is not the way to go: Being religious makes you less compassionate and more judgmental.
You would think that Christians have love and compassion for others. The truth is that a majority of Christians are judgmental (something Jesus taught us not to be) and are very reluctant to help others if they don't belong to their own church - and even then money is mostly used building a bigger business (church) instead of helping people in need.
In a study in 2012 it was discovered that religious people are less inclined to help those in need.
The religious condemn others
Religious people - especially conservative Christians - are very quick to judge those who are different. In the time of Jesus, the religious also judged people that were different.
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but [only] those who are sick. Go and learn what this [Scripture] means: ‘I desire compassion [for those in distress], and not [animal] sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call [to repentance] the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to change], but sinners [those who recognize their sin and actively seek forgiveness]. - Matthew 9:11-13At first glance you might think Jesus was just explaining why He was socializing with sinners. If we look closer then the verse in the middle doesn't fit in there if Jesus was simply explaining that He was reaching out to sinners. Jesus says - "learn what this means" - I did not come for the righteous - those who practice religious practices like sacrificing.
Does that mean that the religious don't need Jesus? No - Jesus said He is the only way to God (John 14:6). That leaves only one possibility - Jesus was sarcastic. We need to take what Jesus said in context with all of His other teachings.
Religious, fundamentalist, conservative Christians might say that they are saved by grace - but they don't really believe that. They are so quick to judge those who do not live up to their idea of what a Christian should and shouldn't do.
We are all sinners - Jesus came for all of us. There are however those that hold on to their religion - their rules of how you should live and how God is supposed to be served - those who judge those who do not fit into their religion. Jesus is saying to them in the verses above - you are missing the point - you are missing God.
God does not care about silly religious rules - He cares about people - He wants us to care about people.
The religious condemn their ownIn the previous section the religious people condemned those outside their religion - the sinners (according to their idea of sinners). In Matthew 12 the religious people of the day judged people of their own religion for not being strict enough. They gathered food on the Sabbath.
Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break [the sanctity of] the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had only known what this statement means, ‘I desire compassion [for those in distress], [a]and not [animal] sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. - Matthew 12:5-7 (AMP)Jesus again is making the point that it is not about religious rules. It is about having love and compassion.
In the Christian religion a lot is expected of you as a Christian:
- join a church
- attend every Sunday service
- attend the weekly home groups
- give 10% of your money to the church (see the Truth about Tithing)
- do everything the pastor says (see One Leader)
- etc, etc. etc.
You can be like the religious people in the time of Jesus, following all your rules and judging those who do not follow all your rules - or you can listen to Jesus and follow His teachings.
Love and compassion
God wants us to live a life of love and compassion - not following silly religious rules and judging others.
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