Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Waking the Dead

When the Lord created the world and all of us, there were certain things He had in mind for us to do and experience, and there were things that He did not intend for us. For example, He never intended for us to experience death. He never intended for us to experience sickness, and believe it or not, He never intended for us to experience religion.

Yes, you read that correctly. Religion was never His idea - religion is man made. It may seem strange that I would group religion in the same thought as sickness and death, but they are actually closely related. Sickness that goes untreated will lead to death. Religion that is allowed to persist will also lead to death.

During Jesus' earthly ministry, as when He speaks to us today, He often used very descriptive terminology. He explained His Father's kingdom by comparing it to seeds, dragnets, pearls and coins. As He taught He referenced fields of flowers, sparrows, building towers and growing grapes. His choice of words was anything but boring, but perhaps one of His most vivid comparisons was reserved for the most religious people in the world. Referring to the Pharisees, He said " . . . you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones . . ."

That is the result of religion. It has the ability to clean up the exterior, but it only produces death. It can change the way we look, the way we act and even the way we talk, but it cannot produce life. As hard as we might try, we will never be able to experience life through religion. Life is only produced through intimacy. Religion is a one way street that leads us in the opposite direction of intimacy. You might even say that the two are opposites.

Religion is based on what we do, intimacy is based on who we are. Galatians 5 contrasts the "deeds of the flesh" and the "fruit of the spirit." Deeds are based on what we do, just like religion. Bearing fruit is a result of being connected to a life-giving source, just like intimacy. The life that we were created to experience can only be produced by an intimate relationship with the Lord. This relationship is based on who we are, not what we do. Apart from intimacy with Him, the best of what we do will only turn us into an attractive grave. Our relationship with the Lord will lead us into a life producing intimacy that can wake the dead.

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