The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the antithesis of religion

In the wake of the heinous act in Orlando, FL early Sunday morning, I knew there were statements, both written and verbal, from certain people and groups stating something along the lines of “This is God’s judgment” or somehow giving “approval” for it.

And I wasn’t going to comment about the presence of these statements, but this morning, after reading the comments one pastor from Sacramento, CA made in his sermon Sunday, there was a person quoted in the article that has led me to now comment.

In his sermon Pastor Roger Jimenez said the following: “Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today? Um no, I think that’s great! I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida is a little safer tonight. We don’t need to do anything to help. As far as I’m concerned, Orlando is a little bit safer tonight.”

That there would be those who would celebrate the death of any person saddens me, but it totally does not surprise me.

But the quote I to which I would like to comment is from Sandrea Nelson, the Pride director of the Davis-Phoenix coalition. Nelson said, “He’s not a man of God. He is not teaching religion.”

I 100% disagree with the second part of that statement. Religion is exactly what Pastor Roger Jimenez is teaching. Religion is all about rules and requirements; it’s all about people attempting to maintain that code of righteousness and morality. The only result of this is that people discover just how far short they fall in achieving the goal.

God’s true purpose in giving the law was to demonstrate that it was impossible for people to achieve righteousness through keeping it because keeping it was an impossible task. Being guilty of violating the law in one way makes one guilty of the entire law.

That what God did through Jesus is the opposite or antithesis of religion can be found in a variety of places in Paul’s letters. Paul clearly states that Jesus sets a person free from the law. Paul writes in Romans 7:4, “So then, my brothers, you also have been made dead to the law through the body of Christ so that you might be joined to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit to God.”

Further, in 8:3-4, Paul writes, “For that which the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law should be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

When a leader like this pastor states this very type of thing, he is not approaching this world through the things of the Spirit but through the things of the flesh which is religion.

This leader is not participating, at all, in the ministry of reconciliation which is the ministry Paul states we have been given by God. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul writes, “So then we, from now on, know NO ONE according to the flesh, even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him no longer. So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, they have become new. But all things are out from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself, not accounting their offenses to them and has put in us the word of reconciliation.”

Notice the two parts I have underlined. Paul specifically states that we know no one, be that person a believer or not, according to the flesh. We see that person through spiritual eyes, through the eyes of God, through the lens of the Gospel, the antithesis of religion.

Further, Paul flat-out states that part and parcel of God reconciling the world to Himself is “not accounting their offenses to them.” If God were to do that, reconciliation would not be possible because judgment would be forthcoming. Peter the Apostle supports this as fact when in his second letter, he writes, “But the Lord does not delay regarding His promises, as some count delay, but is long-suffering toward you, not intending that any perish but that all advance to repentance.”

So, how should one who truly has spiritual sight and is involved in the ministry of reconciliation respond to this tragedy resulting from a heinous act like this? With sadness, because with that size of group, there surely was present those who had not yet experienced that reconciliation and no longer will have that opportunity.

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