There's a movement among young Christians to label Jesus as being greater than religion. No doubt, Jesus is greater than religion. More than that, the movement aims to remind believers and educate unbelievers that religion can often cloud the truth of the Gospel, God's grace, due to the traditionalism and sometimes poor judgment of those deemed to be involved in religion.
One of my dear friends is a part of a movement to encourage people to post pictures on social media that read Jesus>Religion. I concur this is a creative way to encourage the great truth that Jesus is ready to wrap us in God's grace. At the same time, I can't help but wonder why this simple math formula isn't often highlighted with other things that Jesus is greater than. Truthfully, Jesus is greater than more than just "religion". He's greater than everything. While Christians will read this and all agree, I raise my hand first to say that I am guilty of saying I believe this but don't always communicate it well with my life.
All Christians have heard the messages about "putting Christ first" and "not having any idols". These are biblical truths/concepts. It's sorta in those 10 Commandments. However, I'm certain that I often look for greatness is lesser things and miss opportunities to see God's awesomeness and tell people about it. One, I miss it because I look for joy and contentment in lesser things. I also miss it when I get wrapped up in communicating what I'm against rather than what I'm for. I think the latter is at the heart of the Jesus>Religion movement. Most would agree that Christians can focus too much on a list of "to-dos" and "don't-dos" and not enough on God's grace and Christ's love. This is not to say that we join a movement that tiptoes around hard truths and God's expectations as outlined in scripture. However, I believe it's crucial to truly recognize the amazing, jaw-dropping truth of the Gospel and look to communicate that above all.
I enjoy baseball. When I want to encourage someone and tell them how awesome the sport of baseball is, I'm gonna tell them the good stuff. I'm going to talk about exciting finishes, thrilling World Series games, powerful home runs, the best pitchers in the game, the rich American history of the sport, the beautiful smell of the ballpark, and the roar of the crowd. I'm not going to focus on the fact that you can't throw a touchdown or drive a motorcycle on the field during a baseball game. However, both those statements are true and will be understood by anyone that follows baseball. After watching and playing baseball you learn fundamentals, strategy, concepts, and rules. It helps you know the game more fully and enjoy it more fully.
When I watch an awesome movie, I talk about the awesomeness of the movie. I don't focus solely on the one slow scene at the beginning.
Yes, Christians should be bold and stand up against sin. At the same time, we should truly believe that Christ is sufficient, greater than anything, and that nothing else in this world can even compare. Do we communicate that with our lives?
I know I don't always. Truthfully, there are things that I pursue over Christ all the time. I need to remind myself that Christ is greater. Yes, He's greater than religion, rules, and tradition. He's also greater than everything else I hold dear. Maybe some of my idols are similar to yours.
This is one is difficult for me to say and type. I love my family. They mean the world to me. However, Jesus is still greater. When God called me to be a Chaplain, serve Soldiers, and be an agent of His love and Gospel in a dark place, I agreed to go. I went knowing it might cause me to deploy and be away from my family. When It came time for me to go, I begged God to get me out of it because I wanted to stay and take care of my family. That's when God answered back, "I'll be taking care of your family". God wanted my obedience, not my excuses. God wanted to remind me that He is great and worthy of pursuit above all. Jesus says some challenging statements about family when it comes to following him in Luke 14:25-27. Its not that Christ wants us to disown our families, but He wants us to understand how much greater He is than even the best gifts on earth.
How challenging is this? Its so easy to be all about myself and caring for the image I project to others. I'm guessing I'm not the only one. I know a lot of bearded, coffee drinking, Toms and cardigan-wearing, Mumford and Sons listening pastors out there. They're are probably all vying to be a hipster Christian. In reality, they're all working hard to look the same and live up to a certain image. No matter the description that fits the image you project, chances are you work as hard as I do to project it. Not saying it's wrong to have a style that fits your personality, but in no way is that image greater than Christ. Many times we worry more about the coffee we drink, music we listen to, clothes we wear, and technology we carry than we do about the Christ who gave His life up for us.
Yep, you read that right. As good and successful as SEC football might be, it doesn't compare to an inkling of Christ's greatness. SEC Football is the specific entity I'm picking on from the sports world, but truthfully this formula can include any sport....baseball, football, golf, etc.
If only we showed the same passion and excitement for Christ that we often show for our sports teams. Many times, we live and die with our teams. If they lose, we lose. Life sucks! If they win, we win. Life is grand.....for about 5 seconds.
I love movies and music. I love my hobbies....fishing, sports, playing guitar, and video editing. None of those things is greater than Christ. None of those things is worth talking about more than Christ. Yet, so many hours are spent revolved around those things. Truthfully, my earthly entertainment is a waste to pursue, when I have an eternity of worshipping Christ in a place where I will be completely satisfied on the horizon. I should be anticipating that!
The simple fact is.....Jesus is greater! Let's act like it. It's time the world experienced the good stuff. It gets old dining on the cheap appetizer. Pursue something better!