Why I Love Jesus (And Religion, Too)

I wasn’t going to write about this video, but people kept asking me about what I thought of it, so I figured I’d jot down some quick thoughts.

First of all, I understand where the poet in the video is coming from. I don’t know how many times I heard in my church growing up that

“It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship.”

I’ve read a couple books by Carl Medearis, a recent author growing in popularity whose most recent book, “Speaking of Jesus,” is about that exact topic. I even know that Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a famous German martyr killed by the Nazis and whom I greatly respect, shared similar views.

But I can’t help but have reservations about it.


Let me just look at a few of the objections that the poet makes to religion:

1. “If religion is so great, why has it started so many wars?” True, many people have started wars in the name of religion… but they’ve also started wars because of their countries and their families. That doesn’t automatically make countries or families bad. It just means that we have a tendency to hurt each other. Oh, and for that matter, a lot of people have killed explicitly in the name of Jesus… so, strike two.

2. “Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor?” Admittedly, I’ve thought this same thing, but the fact is that the church is one of the most charitable organizations on the planet.

3. “Now I ain’t judging.” You kind of are.

4. “Because Religion says do, Jesus says done.” I think that Jesus had a thing or two to say about some things that we were to do. Love our neighbor as ourselves, care for the poor (as he mentioned earlier), go and make disciples of all nations…

Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good things in the poem. For example, I think he’s right on to criticize self-righteous behavior modification. But that’s just it:

It’s not really a contrast between religion and Jesus, it’s a contrast between self-righteous hypocrisy and real, earnest, faith-ful living.

When it comes down to it, Jesus Himself was not only a devout orthodox Jew, He was also a Pharisee, the very religious people that we see pitted against Him in the Gospel accounts. What we’re called to isn’t Jesus and the abolishment of religion, but Jesus and true religion.


  1. May I add some rhymes were sort of a stretch? Outside of theology, his lyrics didn’t really flow there towards the end. Not to be rude, but doesn’t Paul talk about how it’s okay to judge the church but not outside the church? Please correct me if I’m wrong. Otherwise, this post is spot on! I think too Jesus said done with life eternally yes, but like you stated in the post he said do. Such as love your enemies and make disciples of all nations. Big do’s!

    1. Haha, well, I’m not the most knowledgable when it comes to “rhymes,” but I agree that sometimes it seemed a stretch. Then again, a lot of poets are known for that style of making some of the parts not quite fit. But I don’t that’s the reason in this poem.

      Paul does say something to that extent, although I think it’s more to the point of “don’t get all fussy about the behavior of those outside the church.” At any rate, I pointed out that he was judging, not because it’s bad, but because he said that that’s not what he was doing. “Just sayin’.” ;]

      Thanks, Haydn!

  2. I agree. I think religion vs Jesus has become a churchism, one of those things you don’t really understand unless you are in the church. We hear it and we know it sounds like an anti-church statement but we are really proposing a return to true religion. We like it because it makes us feel like trendy revolutionists. I think it is designed to catch people off-guard but it probably does more to confuse non churchgoing people than anything else. Then again I guess Jesus said a lot of things that would be confusing to most people. maybe he was just better at explaining himself. That and I don’t think he ever used the same illustration twice

    1. Thanks, Andrew. It’s definitely become a “churchism.” Thanks for the new word! I think it’s also become a bit clichéd, to the point that much of the truth of such a statement can be lost in the fact that it’s overuse makes it trite and banal.

  3. Well said. And so glad you linked to James at the end. That’s what I always throw out when people feed me the whole “Relationship not Religion” line.

    1. Thanks, JR!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: