Why not just eliminate Jesus and keep the positive message?

28 Jan

“I’m a supporter of religion. I figure, even if you take Jesus out of Christianity for example – you still have a positive message. What’s wrong with that?”

–          Agnostic guy who grew up Methodist, talking to me in an airport

What’s wrong with that? Tough question, but I’ll give it a shot. The main problem with erasing Jesus from Christian thought and assuming that a positive message remains is that it’s just false. The message that remains is: Try really hard to do the right thing and if you do then God will be pleased with you.

Without Jesus we must measure our lives against God's perfection.

Without Jesus we must measure our lives against God’s perfection.

Sound familiar? It should, because it’s every other religion in the world (although some substitute “You” for “God”). The message of moralism is “Do the right thing!” It resounds loudly and makes our world little more than a drawn out court procedure. Do enough good and you beat the charge, otherwise you’re guilty!

This isn’t a positive message at all because history (humanity’s and mine as well) bears out our inability to even come close to being good people over the long haul. Thankfully, there is more – it’s the Gospel and Grace of Jesus which invites us in all our brokenness to humbly acknowledge that truth about ourselves and repent. He pays the penalty for our wickedness and gives us His righteousness, allowing us to once again be in unbroken relationship with God. That’s a positive message.

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2 Responses to “Why not just eliminate Jesus and keep the positive message?”

  1. allen wood January 30, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    what we need to do is to erase religion and have Jesus , there is a huge difference ! the most religious people of the day, the pharisees, are the ones who killed Jesus, religion is controlled by man, and Jesus loves and changes the man !

    • stevewimmer January 30, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      I agree in general that the Gospel is a different animal than “religion” but I think it’s hard to escape the notion that several of the things Christians are supposed to do are religious in nature (communion, baptism, etc.). The “no religion but Jesus!” rallying cry can sometimes mean “we don’t care about the Church” which I think is short sighted and ultimately misguided. Thanks for commenting!

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