I’ve shared before that religion is about us inviting God into our life; following Jesus is about Him inviting us into His life. I’m using the term “religion” rather narrowly here. I’m talking about ritualistic practices we follow in our attempt to make ourselves right with God. Here are just a few reasons I think we should leave this kind of religion to follow Christ which leads to pure joy:
Religion is about putting our trust in our performance; following Christ is about putting our trust in His performance.
Religion is about following rituals; following Christ is about relationship.
Religion is about appeasement; following Christ is about believing Him instead.
Religion is about compliance; following Christ is about transformation.
Religion focuses on who we’re not; following Christ is about who we are in the “I am.”
Religion is restrictive; following Christ brings real freedom.
Religion uses shame and guilt to control; following Christ is compelled by love.
Religion envisions a distant, separated, conditionally loving, and demanding god; following Christ is encountering an intimate and unconditionally loving God.
I don’t have a problem with religious people finding comfort in their ritualistic observances…the problem is, these things won’t bring us joy. And the gospel is the good news that brings great joy.
We experience joy whenever we’re with those we know are glad we’re here…and the first person we need to know that about is God! The truth is, God has always wanted to be with us. If we will accept it, we bring Him delight and great pleasure. He wants to be with us a lot more than we want to be with Him. Here are just a couple examples:
The Lord your God is with you;
his power gives you victory.
The Lord will take delight in you,
and in his love he will give you new life.
He will sing and be joyful over you (Zeph. 3:17 GNT*)
5–6 For it was always in his perfect plan to adopt us as his delightful children, through our union with Jesus, the Anointed One, so that his tremendous love that cascades over us would glorify his grace—for the same love he has for his Beloved One, Jesus, he has for us. And this unfolding plan brings him great pleasure! (Eph.1:5-6 TPT*)
God delights in us and His desire is for us. He has pulled out all the stops to be with us forever, and when we accept the invitation to participate in His infinite love, and live from that place, our joy receptors go into overload!
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love….11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! (John 15:9, 11 NLT*)
3 This is the life we have seen and heard. We are reporting about it to you also so that you, too, can have a relationship with us. Our relationship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing this so that we can be completely filled with joy. (1 John 1:3-4 GW*)
Beloved, whatever you think you need to be doing to gain God’s acceptance, please stop and just accept the invitation into His life instead.
Religion burns us out and slowly drains the life out of us. But when we finally encounter Love that invaded our broken world, we become fully alive and be filled with His joy, which makes our joy overflow out from us to our all our relationships. In other words, joy to the world!
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt.11:28-30 MSG)