Tag Archives: religion

The Hidden Jesus

Jesus has been hidden in plain sight, by those who distort His message and co-opt it for their own purposes. Christ has become obscured by Christianity. But that is the way it has always been for God’s Truth. That is why God told Isaiah he would be preaching to people who would:

“Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.” (Isaiah 6:9) His teachings, teachings coming directly from God, would “Make the heart of this people calloused; … their ears dull and close their eyes.” (Isaiah 6:10a – excerpts). People would hear what Isaiah said, but not understand it, see it but not perceive it, because they would have their minds made up! People want to make up their own ideas instead of submitting to God’s ways. People are much more comfortable with religion than they are with Truth. By “religion,” I mean a set of rules – do’s and don’ts – so they can measure how well they are doing as they try to measure up.

The ironic thing is this:

    God’s Truth sets us free, while religion ties us up with rules.
    Religion tells us to try harder; God tells us to find the place where we rest, in tune with His Truth.

Consider what Isaiah was told to convey to the priests of his time. The priests had distorted God’s truth, making it sound as though it was for little children:

“For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule, a little here, a little there…” (Isaiah 28:10) But God had said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest” and “This is the place of repose” – but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:12b excerpts) “So then, the word of The Lord to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule: a little here, a little there – so they fall backward, be injured and snared and captured.” (Isaiah 28:13)

People would rather live by rules than by God’s Truth. Religions made up of rules give some people authority over others. People have made up religions based on Jesus, and have hidden Jesus behind them. Jesus came to earth with “grace and truth.” (John 1:14) If people had “eyes to see and ears to hear” Jesus told them, “If you hold to my teaching (literally: if you make your home in my understanding of reality, my ‘logos’) you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31)

Here’s the urgent deal: If all you know about Jesus has come to you from a religion, get to know Him from His Word! Seek to understand His “Logos,” His understanding of what is real and true. Pray to have eyes that see and ears that hear. A great place to start would be in the Gospel of John.

You Choose: Rules or Rest?

Religion may make you feel good, but it doesn’t work.  Religions tell you what you have to do  to be okay with God.  Religions give you the rules to follow so you can make the connection with God happen.  But God says He makes the connection, that He will live in our hearts to bring us to life (Isaiah 57:15 – See “In a Nutshell”).  But He doesn’t do that for the religious; He does it for the “lowly and contrite.”  Religion gives you a score and tells you how well you are doing.  Lowliness puts you in touch with the reality that you can never measure up to God’s standard of righteousness – not even close.  Lowly people hunger for righteousness; religious people tend to think, “I’m not perfect, but I’m doing better than those other guys.”  Jesus comforted and loved the lowly.  He had fits with the religious.

This is not a new problem.  700 years before Jesus, God criticized the religious people because they were making up rules for people to follow to get to God.  He said,

“For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule, a little here, a little there.”  Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen.  So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there— so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. Isaiah 28:10-13

God intended for our relationship with Him to be characterized by rest, not rules.  Coming to  God was intended to be coming to the resting place, the place of repose.  But humans wanted rules, so we could be in control and so we could keep score.  So God said, “Very well then, have it your way.”  And God’s Word for the religious became distorted into “do and do, rule on rule, a little here, a little there.”

But for the lowly, for those who know they can’t measure up by following the rules, God comes and lives with them, reviving their hearts.  Jesus says, “Let Me be in charge; you come find rest in Me.”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28

You can have it your way.  Which way do you choose: rules or rest?