Why hating religion but loving Jesus is impossible
This video is making the rounds and I thought I'd watch it with my kids. I had no idea that thinly disguised anti-Catholicism was still all the rage.
I ended up using the video as a teaching tool to explain how using cliches, sloppy logic and misquoted Scripture might be wildly popular but it also spreads harmful misunderstandings.
Right in the middle of the video, my eldest son turned to me and said: "How can he say he loves the Church while he's bashing it?"
Out of the mouth of babes, yo.
So, let's examine this a bit closer.
First False Claim: "Jesus came to abolish religion." This is simply untrue. In St. Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill." Jesus didn't come to abolish religion. When Christians say they hate religion but love Jesus, they should remember that Jesus was an observant Jew!
Unfortunately, the word "religion" has become synonomous with empty, meaningless ritual. But the problem, here, is not religion itself but religion without relationship. It's an important distinction that is ill-served by a slam poet recklessly slapping the "religion-as-different-than-loving-Jesus" label to anything that looks (let's just be honest, here)....Catholic.
Sure, there are plenty of lapsed Catholics (especially American) who make it seem like Catholicism is an empty, meaningless "religion." But there are also plenty of Catholics who found the love of Jesus right in the very heart of Catholicism. I'm one of them.
Second False Claim: "Religion builds big churches but fails to feed the poor." Again, just blatantly untrue. I hate to be the bearer of inconvenient facts, but the truth is that the biggest humanitarian organization in the world is.....the Catholic Church.
Third False Claim: "Which is so different from religious people and why Jesus called 'em fools."
The sloppiness here is more than a little annoying. Yes, Jesus often called out religious people who paraded their righteousness before men. But Jesus' problem wasn't with their RELIGION, it was with their desire to be seen, to live their zealotry before men instead of before God alone. This is why Jesus admonished religious people to pray in the privacy of their closets instead of shouting on YouTube how they love God so much better than all those OTHER people. Oh, wait. I digress.
Fourth False Claim: "I ain't judging, I'm just sayin' quit puttin' on a fake look." *sigh* Here's the thing: that little phrase "just sayin'" doesn't exempt you from the fact that you just said something judgmental. It's the passive-aggressive version of: "I don't mean to be disrespectful but now I'm going to say something TOTALLY disrespectful!" I ain't judging, I'm just saying you're full of crap.
Fifth False Claim: "Jesus hated religion." Which totally explains why He quit that whole observant Jewish thing. Oh, wait. What?
Sixth False Claim: "He doesn't support self-righteousness." You mean like a self-righteous YouTube video?
Seventh False Claim: "Religion says 'do.' Jesus says 'done.'" Jesus also said: "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments." (St. John 14:15) Keeping commandments sounds a little like 'do' to me. And then there's the whole "faith without works is dead" thing. (St. James 2:26 is SO annoying!) I'm not judging, I'm just sayin'.
Eighth (Scary) Claim: "I hate religion, in fact I literally resent it." You don't hate religion, you hate your IDEA of religion. Because if you really hated religion, you'd hate something Jesus loves.
Jesus isn't greater than religion. Jesus IS religion.
Jesus is real, good, old-time religion.
And His grace saved a wretched, Jesus-lovin' Catholic like me.