Jesus or Religion?

by Creflo Dollar | 24 Aug 2015

Many of us probably have a few childhood memories of an overly strict Sunday school teacher, or a minister harping on God’s wrath and condemnation during Sunday morning service. For some people, those memories are enough to cause them to stop going to church altogether. When we associate images like these with church, it’s the world’s view of religion being pushed at us, but we’re not seeing the true Jesus. Not only is God not angry with us, He loves us so much that He wants to spend eternity with us in heaven.

When Jesus went to the cross for us, it marked the end of the punishment the Law of Moses represented, and the start of God’s grace. Large numbers of people who read the Bible completely miss this concept, never realizing how this transformation affects their entire life. In the Old Testament, the people were required to perform works in order to receive God’s blessing and avoid His curses (Deuteronomy 28:1-6, 15-45). If all these negative things sound familiar to you, you need to know about life after the cross!

Jesus took away whatever curses were lying in wait to ambush us, and replaced them with blessings. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13, 14, NKJV). He loves us so much that He forgave our sins thousands of years ago, before we were even born. That’s the nature of His grace, which is unearned, undeserved favor toward us. We don’t have to feel guilty about our mistakes when we accept Jesus, because God remembers our past sins no more and our skeletons in the closet are gone forever.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus told the parable of the prodigal son who ran away from his father, later regretted his decision, and returned (Luke 15:11-24). Instead of scolding him, the father rejoiced and celebrated. Likewise, God sees us as His children, and when we respond to Jesus’ love after being chased away by religion, God’s response is the same. “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10, NKJV).

What religion doesn’t mention is that God tempers justice with mercy and compassion, and He’s not waiting in the wings to strike us down with a lightning bolt the minute we do something wrong. He wants to bless us, not curse us. He actually sent His own Son to make it possible for us to share the same family identity as Him. “May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm! For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]” (Ephesians 1:3, 5, AMP).

When we hear the preacher in the pulpit telling us what we must do to please God, we know it’s religious talk. Jesus offers us unconditional acceptance, even when we trip and fall flat on our face. We can simply trust and believe in what Jesus has already done on our behalf.