As you see the title, you begin to form an opinion on what you think this post is going to be about. "Oh," you think, "she's going to go there," or maybe you looked at the title and thought, "Wait what.. I thought Jesus and religion was the same thing??" You could be super intrigued about what you think I'm going to write, or maybe you almost clicked the x button when you read the title. The good news is that you haven't even read the meat of this post yet! So I advise you to keep reading.
To set things straight, I'm not writing to answer that age old question, "does Jesus hate religion?" because honestly, the best answer I could come up with is "kinda, sorta, not really, idk." I'm not here to answer what I think Jesus hates and loves, because I'm not Jesus. I do not think that Jesus hates religion, nor do I hate religion. What I am going to say though, is that religion has been distorted to say things that Jesus did not establish. I think we all hear Jesus loud and clear when he says "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17 ESV) but something that we still have trouble with is sticking to the true religion that Jesus brought us.
Let's start at the beginning. Today, religion begins with how much we love God, but in Jesus, we begin with how God loves us. We try and make our outside self look pleasing to God and putting in good deed deposits hoping and saying to ourselves "one day I can be good enough.." But Jesus came to say "it's not like that." Jesus is only about what God can do for us, because here's the thing; Christianity isn't about making ourselves aesthetically pleasing to God or hoping one day we can be worthy of His love, Christianity is about receiving the love that has already been poured out on us.
Today our goal in religion is to get to God, but in the true religion established by Jesus it is clear that Jesus is on a mission to get to man. On that Christmas night in Bethlehem when the baby was born, God showed a whole different way - not of us getting to Him, but of Him coming to us.
And finally, religion is about our requirements, what we have to do to get to heaven, how many good deeds we've completed; but Jesus is summed up in "done" and "it is finished." Religion ends with the unknown, with a huge gamble wondering if in the end, are you sure that what you have done will be enough - enough to be forgiven, to go to heaven. But Jesus has stirred in our hearts saying "there must be more than this" and Jesus ends with eternity. Jesus says that our forgiveness and our salvation isn't based on our good deeds, our merits, our lack of sin, but our salvation has already been won by the ultimate sacrifice and has established eternity in our hearts.
Jesus came to say "my story is bigger than religion."