This thing called grace beats all logic and all reasoning. The carnal, worldly mind cannot understand grace because grace cannot be figured out logically. I mean, does it make sense that the uncreated God of the universe would become flesh to die for sinners? Does it make sense that a holy God would forgive any and all manner of sins upon repentance, without requiring any other penalty for sins other than that which he himself sacrificed to give? It would and does seem very foolish to some, it does seem foolish too, even to some who profess to know Christ. The religious folk.
I guess that’s why Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 1:21: “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
God deliberately made it such that we could not come to him based on our wisdom, based on our understanding. He deliberately made it such that the message of the cross would baffle us all, come against what we believe and think, so that we may not glory in any way about being good enough to merit his grace.
Paul calls the message of the cross foolishness. God made it foolish so that we may receive it only by faith. We don’t have to do anything except believe to be saved, we don’t need to prove how good we are, how smart we are, how intelligent we are to be saved. We don’t need to be better than everybody else, more moral than anybody else to be saved. We just need faith. And anybody can have faith. Anybody.
But many don’t want it like that. Religious people hate grace. They hate that it’s so ‘easy’ to be saved. They hate that God is so merciful, and so they impose burdens on people. In their foolishness, they think they are wiser than God. Like the Pharisees, they place heavy burdens and man made rules on people. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Math 23:13-14)
Religion places emphasis on works in addition to grace. Religion contends that the grace of God is not sufficient to save, something extra must be done. Religion is so subtle that if you’re not careful it’s easy to find yourself burdened and weighed down with a religious spirit. Religion emphasizes works. For example in a church situation, if someone falls into sin, and repents, the religious spirit will not be satisfied. The person must be embarrassed, humiliated, expelled from the church to be freed from their sin. There is no room for mercy and grace in religion, its all about man made rules that oppose the bible.
A religious mother will kick out her pregnant daughter onto the streets because she has sinned and ashamed the family name and the name of God. Forgiveness has no room to work. A religious father will lord it over his wife and children and use bible verses to justify mistreatment, discrimination and inhuman behavior.
A religious leader will be out to make his followers feel like they always fall short and do not meet God’s standards in anything they do, all the while doing nothing to help them, but delighting in his own superior spirituality. A religious person will look down on people of different denominations because of some superiority complex. A religious person will not talk to ‘sinners’ because they want to protect their reputation and right standing in front of people. Like the Pharisees, a religious person, will do things to be seen by others, not to please God. A religious person cleans the outside of the cup to maintain appearances while the inside is dirty and rotten.
Everything Jesus said and did was driven first and foremost by love. That is why when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he said this:
“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”(Math 22:37-40).
The test of love will always reveal whether we are operating under a religious spirit. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 pet 4:8). Everything Jesus did was motivated by love, not a desire to show off, prove how good he was or be applauded by man. That is why he washed his disciples’ feet, he was teaching something so powerful by this action. He was modeling what the kingdom of God should be like until his return.
When his disciples were fighting over who as the greatest among them, Jesus said this to them: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”(Mark 9:35). Again this may seem foolish to the carnal mind, but God had chosen that through its wisdom the world and the worldly minded would not know him.
This concept of servant hood and unconditional love is not familiar with a religious person. A religious person is driven by image, pride and self importance. Where there is religion their will always be division.
A friend of mine shared with me a story that well shows a religious spirit at its best.
His friend who I will call mike comes from a rich family and from a certain Kenyan tribe. He fell in love with a girl who I will call Mary who comes from a not so well to do a family and she is from a different Kenyan tribe which mikes family does not approve of. Mikes parents who are active and key members of their church have opposed the wedding and convinced their pastor to do so too, based on nothing more than the girls tribe and family background. They have made not attempt o hide the fact that those are their only reasons to oppose the wedding. And since they have supported the church financially for many years and still do, the pastor feels compelled to support their actions. Enough said!