Organized religion is dead. Our values no longer align with religion. We’ve lost our faith. We’re becoming more secular every day and won’t revert back anytime soon. The Bible isn’t applicable to modern life.
Do I believe all of these statements? No. While I think boundaries are necessary between religion and policy, religion is still a crucial element to our values. It gives us purpose and hope when the world feels cold and desolate.
The struggle, however, comes in applying ancient Scripture to our present moment. We disagree on how to interpret translated words, and we pick fights over it. We make lines in the sand between interpretations, label “us” and “them.” That’s when we’re just asking for trouble.
What attempt at a solution is there for this vicious cycle? The answer resides in the root of Christianity: Jesus. When we study Jesus specifically, paying close attention to His purpose and true nature, we can turn “organized religion is dead” into “Jesus Christ is alive.”
who is Jesus?
Where does the organized religion of Christianity begin? It exists because Jesus lived among us as the Son of God.
Jesus of Nazareth was a first century Jewish preacher. Scholars all agree He existed historically. Jesus was born as a Galilean Jew baptized by John the Baptist. He began His own ministry and preached His message of God to all who would listen. Jesus actively debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow God. His touch healed those ailing, even bringing people back from the dead. Disciples and apostles gathered to follow Him as He traveled and taught in wise parables.
He was eventually arrested and tried by Jewish authorities, turned over to the Roman government, and crucified by Pontius Pilate. After His death, His followers believed He rose from the dead, and the community they formed eventually became the Christian Church.
Why were people drawn to Jesus in the first place to subsequently create a religion based on Him? He wasn’t breathtakingly beautiful: He was just human. It was His nature and character that resonated with others. Not only was He compassionate, honest, and loving, He was also not afraid to stir things up. Go against the grain. Give a voice to those otherwise unheard. Challenge injustice against fellow man.
why “organized religion is dead.”
Many practices and beliefs “Christians” hold feel like the exact opposite of what should be faith. We fight wars and commit terrorism in the name of religion, no matter its name, but what sense does that make? What statement are we trying to make when stirring unnecessary conflict?
This isn’t the only way current uses of organized religion run contrary to Jesus. Religion often feels like a business, a capitalistic competition to see who is “more correct” than the other, how many people follow one mindset over another, how much money they can receive, and so much more.
Acting with these values over faith itself certainly suggests that organized religion is dead. We’re losing Christ in Christianity by not exuding His example.
By virtually all definitions, Jesus was a socialist. “No one can serve two masters,” Jesus says in Matthew 6:24. “Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” He fought for equality and human rights, especially for the poor. He believed we should be truly taking care of one another.
Are the tenets and doctrine of organized religion important? They can be, but they often distract us from the very essence of what faith is and how we should practice it in our current everyday lives. The Bible illustrates God’s works in that particular setting, but now we must ask: how do we translate Christianity to now?
Among all distinctions and denominations of Christianity, we can all agree that God is real, and our goal is to abide by His values. What better example, then, than the Son of God?
Jesus’ personality serves as our guide to connecting better with God. It’s what we believe is right. Organized religion and strict institutions can muddle that, throwing in many other factors. Instead, focus on you. What God means to you.
How you lead your life and interact with others is more telling than words and Bible verses could ever reveal. Philippians 2:5 says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” God teaches us to love everyone, regardless of any differences. We all possess a common spirit breathing life into us, so we should respect that and show kindness.
1 Peter 5:5 says, “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'” As often as we may confess our sins and try our best, we will always make mistakes. We will never be perfect. Humility allows us the opportunity to empathize with others and accept God as our Father and ultimate teacher.
Another crucial element of Jesus’ nature? Generosity and gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Every moment is a gift, and every blessing we receive should be equally given to others. Jesus gave everything He had to others. He didn’t necessarily give money, but He gave His time and energy. There’s a reason why we find so much joy in generosity and why gratitude instills contentment.
There are so many more qualities of Jesus to admire, but let this serve as a starting point to begin the conversation. Organized religion is dead because we disconnect from fellow humans and overlook every way Jesus lived on earth. We get lost in nitpicking words and phrases rather than be found in all that Jesus is.
He doesn’t want division, nor does He want violence and greed. He wants peace for us. Through Him, we can find it, and we can find faith and religion once more.
What are other ways we can be more like Jesus? Leave your thoughts down below.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie