Recently a video entitled “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus” has garnered a lot of attention. While I am not a fan of rap, I do love poetry and the young man certainly has some good points. I have heard and read a variety of responses to this video. I appreciate that in going viral this video has forced us to look at, talk about, and think about religion, church, Jesus, and how they are the same and how they are not.
Now unless I have gotten it very wrong, Jesus did not come to “abolish religion” as this young man states, but rather because God loves us. After the resurrection Jesus seeks out Peter. This would be the Peter to whom he said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it (Matthew 16.18).”
If we were able to “get it” on our own and stay strong in our faith we would be able to feed ourselves, stay strong in times of doubt and darkness, and have no need of community. I have yet to meet a person that can do that on their own. I believe that is why we have the church. To hold one another up when we need holding, to love one another when we cannot love ourselves, and to continue seeking after Jesus this side of heaven.
There is much religion or the church has gotten wrong through the years. There is much we get wrong right here on the corner of Washington and Elk in Fayetteville, Tennessee. Yet there is much more that we get right. Some of the them are letting a little girl carry a treasured cross into the sanctuary with the help of her father so she learns she is important and valued in the midst of our liturgy, feeding one who cannot stand long enough to cook her own meal, sitting through the night with one who has fallen and cannot be left alone, allowing questions in the context of study so that all come away with a deeper understanding of God’s word, turning coffee hour into a meal that feeds a single person with more than food, and being a place broken people enter to be with God during the week. There are many more and likely many I have yet to learn.
So while there are times we confuse things and make things not of man more important than things of God, I am grateful that we are a work in progress and that God is full of grace and mercy. I pray that here in our little corner of the world that we as a people called the church and a place known as a church can indeed be an ocean of grace to those in need of refreshment.