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Separating Religion from Christianity

My grandmother Joana often greeted me with a particular phrase. After hugging and kissing me on the cheek, she would look me in the eye and joyfully exclaim, “you’re such a good little religious boy.” At the time, I never really knew how to respond to this comment. Yet, I didn’t want to let her down so I tried to stay out of trouble as much as possible. Religion is what others want from you like first century Pharisees who stressed following God’s law.

Then some of the Pharisees said, This Man [Jesus] is not from God, because He does not observe the Sabbath. But others said, How can a man who is a sinner (a bad man) do such signs and miracles? So there was a difference of opinion among them. 17 Accordingly they said to the blind man again, What do you say about Him, seeing that He opened your eyes? And he said, He is [He must be] a prophet! – John 9:16-17

The Mishnah and Gemara are two components of the Talmud. The Mishnah and Gemara are man made expectations written by Jewish religious leaders focused on religiously following God’s commands, decrees and precepts. The main problem with these two books is that they stress religious exercises rather than entering into and developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Christianity on the other hand is finding out what God can do for you via faith in Christ.

And He said to them, Is it lawful and right on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to take it? But they kept silence. And He glanced around at them with vexation and anger, grieved at the hardening of their hearts, and said to the man, Hold out your hand. He held it out, and his hand was [completely] restored. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately held a consultation with the Herodians against Him, how they might [devise some means to] put Him to death, Mark 3:4-6.

One of the best examples in the Bible that separates religion from Christianity is in the passage above. While the Pharisees are focused on keeping the Sabbath, Jesus is searching for a way to share God’s love and power on this sacred day. As these teachers of the law are focused on a zealous observance, Jesus wants to heal a man with a shriveled hand. Following a frustrating conversation with these religious hypocrites, Jesus performs a miracle. While Jesus honors his heavenly Father on the Sabbath, Pharisees are distracted by religion and end up spending more than a year trying to find a way to kill Jesus. This distinction is clear and a good reason to focus on a relationship with Jesus rather than merely a religious exercise.

by Jay Mankus

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