There is a YouTube video going around that has become quite popular. I have seen it linked and shared on Facebook and so I watched it. I had my issues with it but didn’t know that it was really worth my time, or that it was that big of a deal. I recognized that I have heard this theme over and over and that at the core it may have a good heart but the teaching is misleading at best. And I chose to ignore it. I regretted it as soon as I saw someone else pick up the mantle that I had neglected. (To be sure, whether or not I had, he still would have commented.) That reproof was enough to prod me to comment for those that may not have the same opportunity to read the great review I did.
Here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1IAhDGYlpqY
Here is the well written review: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/01/13/does-jesus-hate-religion-kinda-sorta-not-really/
I will summarize shortly, as his review is quite lengthy, though it is worth reading in its entirety, and I strongly recommend it.
Jesus is not anti-religion. The OT is full of religious function with God ordained purpose. Jesus came practicing perfectly the OT law. He obeyed rules and regulations. He did not come to abolish them, but fulfill it. He then instituted the church; gave the church orders, ordinances, and instructions to proselytize.
The renaming of words is what the post-modernist does. Religion is not the same as false religion. What this video, and many modern zealots who like the phrase “relationship not religion” are speaking of misunderstand is false religion. False religion is bad. Religion itself is all throughout the Bible, God ordained and commanded. Religion is practiced by Israel and the saints of the NT. James speaks in short succession of vain religion and pure religion.
Relationship with Christ means following his ordinances, obeying his commands, not forsaking the assembly of the saints, giving, praying, praising, and these are all things that are commonly associated with religion, and indeed comprise religion. Religion in the worship of Jesus as Lord and Savior is true religion, pure religion, and Jesus is not against that.
Am I making a big deal about the misuse of a word? There is more to his poem that is inaccurate, and much in it that is good. (For a full verse by verse analysis, refer to the above link.) But Americans think that religion is wrong. Americans want the Jesus that doesn’t require anything of them. They want the Savior without the Lord. They want the Baby in the manger without the obedience He requires. To say “relationship not religion” or to say “Jesus hates religion” implies that everything that makes up religion is wrong, when in fact the misuse of it is wrong. Christ approves and commands true religion. To continue the misuse of this word, phrasing, and terminology does water down the truth of the Gospel.