If God hates religion, what’d He think of Jesus?

This week, we are preparing our hearts for Easter Sunday using a Holy Week Worship Guide (thank you, Nick).

Caleb and I were together on our Holy Week journey one morning when I read,

Each year, thousands of faithful pilgrims made the trek to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, and Jesus and His disciples were among them.

As I began to proceed, Caleb brought our voyage to a halt.  His inquisitive mind craving the truth.

Wouldn’t that have been religious of Jesus?

mapua pebbles by redshoes_nz via flickr


We are hearing much about religion these days.

Caleb explains he saw a man wearing a shirt which professed God hates religion but loves relationships.

Then did God hate Jesus celebrating the Passover, mom?

pebbles up close by Ivan Lian via flickr

According to my 1949 Webster’s Dictionary, religion is the service and adoration of God as expressed in forms of worship.

An awareness of conviction of the existence of a Supreme Being, arousing reverence, love, gratitude, the will to obey and serve, and the like.

Caleb recognized Jesus adhering to an act of religion.

Many in this world will find themselves devoted to forms of service in an attempt to become right with God.  Works designed and motivated by self.  Acts prescribed by men.

Others will find themselves zealous and faithful because of their right standing with God.

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift. (Ephesians 2:8 HCSB)

Endeavors originating from God.  Allegiance and dedication energized by God.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?

If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works.You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.

Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.  (James 2:14-20, 24, 26 HCSB)

One is religious because of the relationship.

The other is religious hoping for a relationship.

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sleeping in an oven makes you a biscuit. (Randy Culp: thinkingoutkeyboard)

pebbles by dbaron via flickr

Caleb and I discussed the differences.  Pondered the thoughts of men.  Searched the Word.

Just a mom and her twelve-year-old son.  No theological training.  Lacking seminary degrees.

But seeking Truth.

tiny pebble in the sand by nucleotidingsofjoy via flickr

And we came to a conclusion.

When devotion flourishes as fruit from a relationship rooted in God, religion is lovely in His sight.

What are your thoughts?  (And you don’t have to be a theologian to share!)

34 thoughts on “If God hates religion, what’d He think of Jesus?”

  1. Dear Cristal,

    I got a picture of what the talk would have looked like between 12-year-old Jesus and his mother. I felt like my sons were always teaching me as they grew. It was probably because they were! Who knew?

    Children asks all the things we thought we had gotten past, but when we try to explain them we find we can’t remember how they were once resolved. It is such a joy to parent and be brought into the Holy of Holies with one’s son, isn’t it?

    It is finished today,

    1. Dawn,

      You are so right. I used to believe my parents had prayed a “pay back” prayer with me as the recipient because Caleb is a handful. But, now I realize his questioning is a blessing as it builds my knowledge when I have to seek the answers to his tough questions. And, yes, it is such a joy to be a mother with these young men of mine. I am blessed beyond measure to have been counted worthy to parent these boys.

      Blessings to you,

  2. Reblogged this on Provocative Christian Living and commented:
    I love this post from my friend Cristal. She has a very refreshing and challenging perspective on following Jesus. Once you read this post you will also see that she has an amazingly wise and provocative 12 year old son named Caleb who has a better perspective on Jesus, faith, and religion that most adults I know.

    1. Dan, you are very kind to have reblogged and to have taken the time to have written such a compliment. And, you have pegged Caleb correctly. There is something deeply amazing about this child (who gives me a run for my religious money). 😉

      I was quite stirred by your most recent post and loved this that you wrote: “Saying that you Love Jesus but can’t stand the church is like telling me that you think I am awesome but my wife is a complete loser.” I am finding some lasting treasure at Provocative Christian Living!

    1. Thank you very much for reblogging, Glenford. I am glad you stopped by so I could also check out your blog — which appears to be filled with lots of goodies! 😉

  3. I loved the talk you and your son had…I never was one who cared about religion because it was the religious folks which killed our Lord and Savior. many people do allot for the cause and sake of religion. They kill people men act as if they are gods and to me it’s mockery.

    On my posting today I asked myself had I been there when they cruified my Savior what would of done, what would I have said….I think you will like my posting on Good Friday…

    Blessed Resurrection Sunday to you and yours

    1. There is much truth in your comment, Desiray. I think that’s why we have to ask ourselves if our devotion to Christ is out of a loving relationship with Him or in order to earn something (like salvation, status, etc). I can’t wait to read what you’ve written today. I am encouraged every time I visit The Devotion Cafe!

    1. Thank you for reblogging! I was glad to find your blog and the Just Say No post — which I plan to print out and make copies of for my children and myself! Great stuff over there at Shattered by Grace. 🙂

  4. According to Matthew, Jesus was pretty much explicit on this: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them” (5:17). It seems to me rather that the problem we see, that people have (mis-)identified, is that ‘religion’ has been corrupted. The word has come to represent organisational systems of control, rather than to stand for a personal commitment to a communal faith. Thanks for your thoughts, Cristal, it’s very interesting to hear them, and so refreshing to hear that there are others out there searching, religiously, as I am!

    1. It is, indeed, refreshing to meet others who aren’t ashamed to be searching religiously! And I enjoyed reading your blog today (as I am one who has difficulty with “trust” as you addressed on your blog). Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I look forward to reading more of what you write.

  5. Thank you for a thought-provoking post. I agree with you and your readers that God always approves of religion that comes from a right relationship with the Him. He just never had any use for false, empty or mis-directed religious rituals. So often we make these issues and either/or quesiton: relationship OR religion? The answer is…”yes.”

  6. Cristal thank you for sharing this. I’m often challenged when I look at the deeper meaning behind why I do what I do. There are so many outside influences. If my relationship with God is kept pure and rooted in love, it can only be contributed to His amazing grace.

  7. I have always felt the word “religion” or “religious” is not one that I want people to describe my christian walk as. The one thing that always stuck with me from the word of God is that, he hates religion. I don’t like titles determining my faith or belief in God. I feel it is a word that binds people to rules and regulations and because of that they can not freely worship God in the way He would want them too.

    1. I agree with you, Tami, on not allowing titles to determine my faith or beliefs. Sometimes, a person will be judged simply by stating a denomination (title). And, as you touched on, many people are bound by rules and miss out on worshiping God with freedom. I have found that I am able to freely participate in “religious activities” (like fasting) as it’s done out of a relationship with Christ; not as a way to meet a man-made rule or to try to make God happy with me.

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  8. You caught me Cristal, my first thought reading the title was you had lost it, and that was the hook that made me stop what I was doing and read it immediately. Most excellent!!

    God doesn’t hate religion any more than He hates the lost … and He loves the lost … loves them so much He would rather die than be separated from them …

    He sometimes hates what they do, both the lost and religion, and He makes it a point to note that a religion that does not care for the “least of these” is not worthwhile (James 1:27). It may be that He does not hate religion but that religion is irrelevant. When we do justly love mercy, and walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8) we have fulfilled His requirements.


    1. I’m glad I caught your attention, Randy! I have certainly lost it many times; so I can see why you were worried. 😉

      Thank you for your insightful comment!

  9. lovely post… and we know the Father said… this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…God sees the heart even to this day. I am sure that as He heard you and your son discussing this that He was smiling broadly…without a doubt it was a wide grin from a very proud Papa!

  10. Since God used her powerfully in my life, just over a year ago, I’m a big “fan” of Joyce Meyer. She often says, “Jesus didn’t die to give us a religion, but a relationship with Him and the Father”–her point is that people can “warm the pews” and do all kinds of service “works” in church, and miss out on the life-giving relationship with Jesus. Conversely, if we’re in a vital relationship with Him, we’ll have a desire to serve that flows naturally–His love flowing into us, and then out of us onto others. And that’s my two-cents–hope I said it okay! God bless you today.

    1. Yes, you said it okay. 😉 I agree. If I am working in an attempt to become right with God, I have missed the boat. Christ died so I could have access to Him and His Father. That relationship with God is the purpose of my existence and spurs me along to the works He puts into my life to be exhibited to bring Him glory. I am glad you stopped by and appreciate your thoughtful comment!

      1. U R SO Welcome Cristal; and I enjoyed visiting your site as well.. I will be visiting you often for sure… Many Blessings sister.. Bro Pat.. Good News..

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