Christianity is the End of Religion
Contrasting Religion and the Gospel has intrigued me the last few years. Here is an account from Tim Keller’s book King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus (p. 48), which was a previous book review entitled: How’s Your Mark’s Gospel Study? Dick Lucas, the renowned British minister, once preached a sermon in which he recounted an imaginary conversation between an early Christian and her pagan neighbor in Rome.
“Ah,” the neighbor says. “I hear you are religious! Great! Religion is a good thing. Where is your temple or holy place?”
“We don’t have a temple,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our temple.”
“No temple? But where do your priests work and do their ritual?”
“We don’t have priests to mediate the presence of God,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our priest.”
“No priests? But where do you offer your sacrifices to acquire the favor of your God?”
“We don’t need a sacrifice,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our sacrifice.”
“What kind of religion is this?” sputters the pagan neighbor.
And the answer is, it’s no kind of religion at all.
In its very essence the Gospel or Christianity signifies the end of religion. The above imaginary conversation expresses how the Gospel is different from and the very opposite of how people perceive Religion to be, including Christianity that is inadequately understood and communicated. (The differences in the table between Religion and the Gospel is explained further in the link). Briefly, Religion is man’s effort to reach God, while the Gospel is the good news that God reaches out to man through Jesus Christ. Interestingly, it was the most religious people of Jesus’ day that schemed to kill Jesus and they did. To give mankind peace and rest, Jesus put an end to religion, while the religious elite put an end to Jesus. Religion is always threatened by and opposed by the Gospel of Jesus.
Do you understand Christianity to be the Gospel (good news) of God saving you through Christ? Or might you think of Christianity as your efforts of trying to get to God?