Jesus And Religion

Jesus And Religion

Jesus came to say "My story is bigger than religion."

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."

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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When God Calls You To Change Your Life Plans, You Go

So what do you do when God calls? You go.

What do you do when God calls?

I have always been a planner. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a majority of my life planned out. The biggest detail I have always been certain of is my education and career. Since I was very young, I have always wanted to be a veterinarian. Maybe want isn't a good word considering I was DEAD SET on being a veterinarian.

That plan was still the same up until this summer, the summer before my junior year of college. I attended two years of community college getting my basics done, and finally, the moment was here to transfer to the school where the really important classes began. Over this summer, I decided to rededicate my life to Christ, and also decided to get baptized. Definitely best decisions of my life, but those moments began a chain of events that led to God changing my plans.

I never really believed in true signs from God. I always noticed that there were things here and there that seemed to point in a direction, but until I really gave my life to Christ, I never believed in Him showing real-life signs. I guess it began when I worked for several vets prior to starting school. As much as I admired them and what they did, I hated my job. I hated the loss. I hated seeing the pain the animals felt. I had breakdowns every time we euthanized an animal.

I couldn't handle it. But I still never saw it as a sign.

Then it continued with a tugging on my emotions that I just couldn't explain. I had just been accepted into a great school, was finally going to be taking the classes I was interested in, and everything was going as planned.

I should have been happy right? But I wasn't.

I would have breakdowns where I just wanted to go home. I would just sit in my apartment and cry. Before school even started, I dropped my pre-vet concentration. I felt a wave of relief. I would just stick with Animal Science because I knew I wasn't supposed to be a vet, but I had to stick with animals right?

Wrong. It wasn't enough.

After a semester of classes as an animal science major, I came home over Christmas break feeling lost and discouraged. But I couldn't change my major. What was I gonna do? I have always known I was gonna work with animals. But God finally got through to me...

Over Christmas break, I resumed some work with a Children's Hospital that I used to do in high school. A charity event, collecting toys for the children stuck in the hospital over the holidays. Then it hit me. The immense joy I experienced from helping those children.

I finally understood. My whole life God was preparing me for this.

Growing up, I never had the cookie cutter injuries most kids get, like a broken arm from playing sports. I was stuck in a gastroenterologist's office in 6th grade because I threw up my food every day and no one knew what was wrong with me. I was blind for 2 months and then had major surgery and stitches in my eye at 15 because a firework exploded in my eye. I have endometriosis that has been removed and keeps coming back.

All of these experiences were so hard because the children my age never understood and usually didn't have to go through these things. But it was God all along. He was molding me into a person who could understand. He was making me a voice for children.

So now I am a child development major. I will graduate with a bachelor's and a certificate in global child advocacy. After I complete my master's degree, I will become a certified child life specialist, which is someone who works in the medical setting and helps the children understand what they are going through, and helps the child and their family cope with it.

Where I am now is a far cry from where I thought I would be. But I have never felt more at peace and happy in my life. God has shown me my purpose. I'm not perfect, not even close, but the moment I allowed myself to follow God's will and get close to Him, my life began to make sense. It might have taken me six months or more to sort through the uncertainty and chaos, but now that I understand it is all worth it. God has a plan for all of us, He only wants us to surrender our worries and follow Him.

So what do you do when God calls? You go.

Cover Image Credit: Sydney Lind Moore

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A Thank You Letter To Single Moms, From A Girl Who Was Raised By One

Thank you for all that you do.

Dear Single Moms,

You are the ones who are going at it alone.

The reason you no longer have a teammate is unknown to me. I do not know whether it was abandonment, abuse, death, adultery, an unright fit, or one of the other vastly possible reasons that has caused you to now be raising your child(ren) alone.

This is what I do know:

I know you are the strongest kind of person. You are the superhero that superheroes look up to.

I know you are the most selfless kind of person. You are the ones who are able to put someone else's life above your own.

I know you are the most dedicated kind of person. You are the ones who work at least two jobs, the one paying for groceries and being a solo parent.

I know you are the most compassionate kind of person. You are the ones who are making chicken soup and shouting "Have you been drinking that water I put next to your bed!" during flu season.

I know you are the most versatile kind of person. You are the ones who always know how to do everything right, from fixing a science fair project due the next morning to throwing the perfect surprise birthday party to knowing just what to say during that first broken heart.

I know you are the most loyal kind of person. You are not going anywhere during the toughest of times.

I know you are the cuddliest kind of person. You are the ones whose positivity and love radiate out making you the perfect companion for a cuddle session.

I could keep going forever so I will just conclude with this:

I want to say thank you to all the amazing single mothers out there, you are my role models.

And while one day, if I have children, I hope to have a partner. I also hope to posses half of the outstanding traits you do.

Love,

A Daughter

Cover Image Credit: Rachel Stone

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