If you haven’t seen this video by Jefferson Bethke you may soon be in the minority. It has had around 10 million hits in the last few days. Take a look:
There is much good in this video. In a creative way Bethke summarizes the truth of the gospel. The bummer is that in the midst of the good there are a few things that are misleading.
I’ll post the words, make some comments, and then wrap it up at the end.
What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?
What if I told you voting republican really wasn’t his mission?
What if I told you republican doesn’t automatically mean Christian?
And just because you call some people blind
Doesn’t automatically give you vision.
I mean, if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars?
Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor?
Tells single moms God doesn’t love them if they’ve ever had a divorce,
But in the old testament God actually calls religious people whores.
Ok, Jesus came to abolish religion. Depending on the definition I either wholeheartedly agree or wholeheartedly disagree. If religion describes a system of faith, I disagree. If religion is a set of external behaviors, I agree with Bethke. Unfortunately, without more clarification, the statement is close to meaningless as is. A similar statement is, “mankind is good”; it requires explanation and qualification to become a useful statement.
Yes, we probably need to say that the GOP isn’t God’s party. I guess there are people out there who really believe this. For the most part, there isn’t a nickel’s worth ($50 billion in today’s dollars, on a deficit of trillion and a half!) of difference between the democratic and republican party. One party will run us over a cliff at 100 mph and the other at only 80 mph. Same result.
In the last line of this verse Bethke seems to be saying that as believers in Christ, we shouldn’t be known for saying that others are wrong if we aren’t actively leading in what is right. Good word. However, the point of the video is to show that others are wrong… just sayin’.
The second part about religion and wars is not so helpful here. Bethke acts like the term “religion” is clear to everyone, but it obviously isn’t. What I mean is, if the facts show that the opposite of a statement also seems valid, it makes the statement meaningless. (i.e. if non-religion is so great, why has it started so many wars? see 20th century; or, “If religion is so bad, why has it brought so much peace?”) It’s one thing to condemn a religion of self-righteous and hypocritical behavior, it is another thing to condemn a system of belief.
By failing to feed the poor, he must mean ALL the poor, because more than any other entity in history, Christianity serves the poor. Though there are exceptions, this has always been true of both big and small churches.
Who tells single moms that God doesn’t love them? This is a straw man. Ok, there is something here. We need to actively welcome those who feel condemned and damaged by their past.
BTW, the Old Testament does not call all religious people whores. Weren’t Abraham and Moses religious? “Religious” here must have a special narrow meaning that isn’t communicated.
Religion might preach grace, but another thing they practice;
Tend to ridicule God’s people, they did it to John The Baptist.
They can’t fix their problems, and so they just mask it,
Not realizing religion’s like spraying perfume on a casket.
See the problem with religion, is it never gets to the core,
It’s just behavior modification, like a long list of chores.
Like let’s dress up the outside make it look nice and neat;
But it’s funny that’s what they use to do to mummies
While the corpse rots underneath.
Yes! It is impossible to read Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount without learning that Christianity is more concerned with transformation from the inside out than conformity to rules. Well said.
Now I ain’t judgin’, I’m just saying, quit putting on a fake look
Cause there’s a problem
If people only know you’re a Christian by your Facebook.
I mean in every other aspect of life, you know that logic’s unworthy;
It’s like saying you play for the Lakers just because you bought a jersey.
You see this was me too, but no one seemed to be on to me
Acting like a church kid, while addicted to pornography.
See on Sunday I’d go to church, but Saturday getting faded;
Acting if I was simply created just to have sex and get wasted.
See I spent my whole life building this facade of neatness,
But now that I know Jesus, I boast in my weakness
Ain’t judgin’!? Again this must be one of Bethke’s unique, special definitions, because judgin’ is exactly what he is doing. You can’t call someone a whore and then claim your not judging. Not that there is anything wrong with pointing out an error. If this is judging, we shouldn’t be afraid of it. Anyway, yes, it is too easy get lost in worship, pledge total faithfulness to Christ, and then next day (hour? minute?) succumb to temptation to get angry, to lust, be full of pride. We would do well if we admitted that this is true of all of us not pretend that it isn’t; well said.
Because if grace is water, then the church should be an ocean;
It’s not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken.
Which means I don’t have to hide my failure, I don’t have to hide my sin
Because it doesn’t depend on me it depends on him.
See because when I was God’s enemy and certainly not a fan,
He looked down and said, “I want that man.”
The first part is well done here. Yes, we were all once enemies of Christ, living in sin; then God acted to bring us to Himself. Let’s not then claim that we came to Christ without sin. Anything else if foolishness.
However, let’s not confuse good people with broken. Yes, we come to Christ broken not “good” and stay dependent upon Him. However, we are commanded to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We have to be careful to not remain in a settled state of “brokenness”. We need to work to get out of the entanglements caused by sin. It is right to try to become a “good person.”
Which is why Jesus hated religion, and for it he called them fools;
Don’t you see so much better than just following some rules?
Now let me clarify, I love the church, I love the Bible, and ,yes, I believe in sin,
But if Jesus came to your church would they actually let him in?
See, remember he was called a glutton, and a drunkard by religious men,
But the Son of God never supports self righteousness not now, not then.
Now back to the point, one thing is vital to mention:
How Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrums.
See one’s the work of God, but one’s a man made invention
See one is the cure, but the other’s the infection;
See because religion says do, Jesus says done;
Religion says slave, Jesus says son;
Religion puts you in bondage, while Jesus sets you free;
Religion makes you blind, but Jesus makes you see.
And that’s why religion and Jesus are two different clans.
There is a little confusion here between Jesus and religion. Actually Jesus also says to do, he also says slave, but I get the point about the difference between a set of rules and biblical Christianity (which, by the way, is a religion).
Religion is man searching for God, Christianity is God searching for man,
Which is why salvation is freely mine, and forgiveness is my own,
Not based on my merits but Jesus’s obedience alone.
Because he took the crown of thorns, and the blood dripped down his face;
He took what we all deserved, I guess that’s why you call it grace.
And while being murdered he yelled,
“Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
Because when he was dangling on that cross, he was thinking of you;
And he absorbed all of your sin, and buried it in the tomb,
Which is why I’m kneeling at the cross, saying come on there’s room.
So for religion, no I hate it, in fact I literally resent it,
Because when Jesus said it is finished, I believe he meant it.
Thank-you, Jesus, for your obedience and sacrifice! Yes, we come to the cross for forgiveness.
Nice interchange between Jeffrey Bethke and Kevin DeYoung about the video here.
Why have 10 million people watched this in just a few days? What can we learn from this?
- Too often we justify our own sin while at the same time condemn others. This leads to covering our own sin not confessing. This results in deepening a pattern of self-deception while at the same time we want to bring others down to our level by finding sin in their lives. We need to actively create an environment of acceptance and support for those who confess sin. We need to correct not reward those who don’t admit sin.
- External behavior comes from the state of someone’s heart. However, it is possible to publicly fake good behavior and deceive those around us of our heart’s true condition. We need to continually evaluate our own hearts and, because we often lie to ourselves, ask our friends to help us look at our motives and behavior.
- Though the church should be an ocean of grace, it sometimes is unwelcoming of people who are in need help. We need to actively welcome those in our midst and resist the temptation to only relate to people we think are like us.