Are you afraid of...
The idea of religion can be terrifying. So many atrocious things in our world have been instigated or endorsed in the name of religion. For thousands of years wars have been fought over a clash in religious beliefs. Millions of people have killed and been killed in the cause of advancing or destroying a particular religion. There is not a time in history that hasn’t been stained with bloodshed in the name of one god or another.
Further, how much irreparable damage has been done in the name of religion? How many people have felt rejected, judged, ostracised and marginalised, or been physically and mentally harmed by people claiming to be obeying a god? When considering all the people who’ve been negatively affected throughout time and place, it's perfectly reasonable and understandable to fear religion, and right to condemn harmful acts committed under the banner of religion. And you wouldn’t be the only one.
You might be surprised, but nobody condemned religion more than Jesus. In Matthew, one of the books in the Bible that was written about Jesus’s life, he warns the people around him not to imitate the religious leaders in the 1st Century BCE, saying “do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Matthew 23).
He calls them “hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, blind men, snakes, a brood of vipers, and whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23). Everything Jesus did and said was in direct contradiction to the religious leaders who were blocking the way to relationship with God on the basis of race, behaviour and social stigma. Instead, Jesus welcomed anyone and everyone who was willing to accept his invitation of friendship and leadership, and continues to do so today, if you’re willing to consider getting to know and understand him better.
So if you're afraid of religion, you might have more to learn from Jesus than you think. Please let us know if you’d like to discover more!