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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Religion is a burden. It always has been. The reason is simple...religion is man's attempt to get back to God. Religion is always man-inspired and centered around the efforts of man. Funny thing, too. Asking a man how to get to God is like asking a lost man who speaks a different language for directions. There has never been nor will there ever be a man who can find God on his own.

That's why there was Jesus. And one of the key teachings of Jesus was that religion would not save you. In one instance, He described it as the cleaning of the outside of a bowl while leaving the inside dirty. And that's where religion fails. It measures the performance of man--the outside. There are many good religions that cause men to "look" good on the outside while failing to bring a change to what really matters--our hearts. In reality, what God has desired all along was an intimate relationship based on love. Love removes the barriers of performance and places all the emphasis--not on what we can do to get to God--but on what God has done to capture us.

See the difference?

Jesus put it another way when he encouraged His followers to take His yoke upon themselves. He said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." Now, for those of you who have ever been in religion (whether it's Baptist or Pentecostal or Hindu or Islamic) you know that the burden of religion is anything but light. It suppresses us, hinders us and prohibits us from living full lives. But Jesus said this would be easy. And it is, when we quit trusting our ability to do what only God can do. His burden is light because He carries that burden. He carried it all on a cross and invited us to follow after Him. Once again, it was following out of love, not out of performance.

I hope you're getting the difference here. It's monumental. On those days when I fall back into religion, I wonder if where I am personally and where I am leading others is really worth it. Those days are brought on by well-meaning friends who measure my "performance" to tell me if I am meeting man's standards for how a pastor/husband/dad/son/etc. should act. But God says the very best I can do for Him is like a filthy rag so I must quit doing and start being...being His child, His friend, His follower, His lover. All of these are radical thoughts for those of you who are still caught in religion. But for those of you who have tasted the true greatness of God's yoke, you know there is wonderful freedom found in a loving relationship with the Father. I invite you to leave your religion and find Him today...

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