Jesus takes on church-ianity

There’s one self-cure religion that looks really great, and is very popular in the western world. I know that, because I used to be part of it.

I call it “church-ianity”.

It’s very easy to go to church, sing hymns and enjoy the buildings… but still rely on your own guesses about God, rather than listening to Jesus. And it’s very easy to go to church, do good things and try to obey God… but be relying on these things to cure your sin-disease.

But only Jesus can save, not church. Going to church doesn’t cure you. Trying very hard to obey the Ten Commandments doesn’t cure you. Only Doctor Jesus can do that.

Sometimes people are into church-ianity for many years before they meet Jesus, the cancer-curing master-surgeon. Look at these words from the Christian leader, Paul, who was just like that:

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. – Philippians 3 v 4-8

Paul topped the charts for ancient-times church-ianity. He was from the most pure religious family, top of his class in Religious Education and regular winner of the “most religious boy in school” prize (in those days, that was a top award). But when he met Jesus, he said all that was “garbage”. In the language Paul originally used, the word also means “excrement”. Paul is saying that compared to Jesus, church-ianity is like the stuff we flush down the toilet.

I have a similar story: I started off deep into church-ianity. I grew up in a traditional church. I sang the songs; I said my prayers. I thought I could be good enough to make God like me, but I kept failing. I thought I could cure myself; but I couldn’t.

Then, when I was 16, someone told me that Jesus said I couldn’t cure myself, but that I didn’t need to; he’d do it for me, so that I could enjoy living with him, and look forward to perfection for ever.

I was so excited to meet Dr. Jesus. I traded in a religion for a rescue.

Religion or rescue?

We all have the cancer of sin. Of course, we can choose to deny we have it. We can pretend we’re fine, and refuse to listen to the expert (Jesus). But that doesn’t make the problem go away.

Or we can accept we’ve got a problem, and decide to heal ourselves. A devout Buddhist following their disciplines is a self-healer. So is little teenage me, saying the Lord’s Prayer each night. So, actually, is anyone who thinks: “I’ll be alright; I’ve never done anything too bad in my life—I’m sure I’m fine with God”.

Or we can pick someone or something that we hope can cure us. This is what a Muslim is doing, who hopes Allah, in his mercy, will forgive them. The problem is, as we saw earlier, that Jesus said he was the only surgeon who could heal us, and he must be right because he’s God.

But there is a fourth option: we can realise we’ve got a problem, realise we can’t cure ourselves, and realise that only Jesus can cure us. He’s God, so he gets to say what’s right and wrong about God. And he’s the doctor, so he can cure us of our sin and give us life for ever. We can come to Jesus and say: “Operate on me, please.”

This is why, in many ways, Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship. It’s calling Dr. Jesus.


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