The End of Religion – Zack Lacy
It’s been a rough start and it’s going to be a long journey, but Jesus is slowly leading me out of the destructive lies that religion has fed me. I started following Jesus about seven years ago, but before that and along the way I believe the most destructive thing that has happened has been the false lies I have been taught about who Jesus really was and what it really means to follow him.
I speak from the disillusionment of my own life. And I’m learning that many others do too. Fil Anderson, author of Running on Empty and Breaking the Rules, is an author and spiritual director. Listen as he writes that, “an especially significant problem in our society is that in the minds of many people Christianity is a religion and the only alternative to it is being waywardly irreligious.” I remember back in my first days of following Jesus trying desperately for people to understand this. Of course this isn’t religion—it’s something altogether different. No, just understand! This is not what you think it is. Following Jesus is not about God making me religious or irreligious, moral or immoral, or something in between. It’s about something completely different, completely new, something radically transformative.
Yet tragically, we misunderstand. What I’m learning, what Jesus is teaching me through people like Fil, is that Jesus is horrible at meeting my religious expectations. This is a beautiful yet haunting reality, because I believe the most religious people are those who think they have God in the palm of their hands. Jesus consistently shows us his indifference and frustration with folks like these in the Gospels. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” Jesus exclaims. I’m seeing that almost every hostile encounter in the Gospels is directed towards the Pharisees—and I’m seeing that often, I’m just like them.
In fact, I think I am beginning to see that the primary objective of the life of Jesus Christ was to dismantle religion altogether. Do you agree? Karl Barth stated, “The revelation of God is the abolition of religion.” Right he was. Jesus sees the way I try to make a relationship with him into a set of do’s and don’ts, however well intentioned I am. The thing about religion is that it is subtle, yet deadly. Like cancer in the body, it slowly kills. Yet Jesus is the great surgeon of our hearts, and if we will ask, he will be willing to walk with us through the blind misconceptions we have of the life he has called us to and into a more authentic place; a place where we truly begin to live from our hearts.
The scary part is that I know many people who are living an illusion. They’re disappointed with their lives. They’re tired. They’re sick of being frustrated and they’re tired of feeling like they aren’t doing enough—or being enough. Trust me, I know how you feel. It might be a long journey out of your frustration, but it’s the journey that matters, and we can be confident that Jesus will accompany us the entire way out, out of the sick lies that religion has fed us, and into the only place that matters—the love of God.
Zack Lacy studied Biblical Studies at Moody Bible Institute in Spokane, WA. He’s passionate about helping people think and live for Jesus in authentic ways.