Christ Is The End Of Religion
In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul has led us to see the good news of the gospel, how we have all fallen short of the glory of God, how we each owe a debt that Jesus paid on the cross and because of that we can never be separated from the love of God. Romans not the easiest or shortest of Paul’s letters, it is easily the most challenging of the epistles. I avoided and dreaded it, saying I hated it. That is not good so, I decided to wrestle with Romans and share my findings. This should be a good thing for both the reader, and myself, yet I am coming to see that this is becoming more and more comforting and troubling. Yes, both! I am torn. Part of me wants to be done with this study; another part wants to continue to see this to the end. Even if I walk away, limping it will be good to finish this study.
Today we will begin the tenth chapter. It too is both comforting and challenging.
Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)
You can say that Christ is the goal or purpose of the law or that for believers Christ makes the law obsolete because they no longer strive to establish their own righteousness by it. Jesus is the end of religion of striving of making oneself right by self alone. Jesus ends all religion. Jesus says come and see that God is good that God loves you as you are. Jesus took on humanity to reconcile all of creation to God. It was a rescue operation. One that continues is ongoing and will be gloriously complete at the end of history. Jesus is making this world, this life the one we are in now and the one we are living now into the Kingdom of God.
As my favorite theologian Robert Farrar Capon said, “The gospel of grace is the end of religion, the final posting of the CLOSED sign on the sweatshop of the human race’s perpetual struggle to think well of itself. For that, at bottom, is what religion is: man’s well-meant but dim-witted attempt to approve of his unapprovable condition by doing odd jobs he thinks some important Something will thank him for. Religion, therefore, is a loser, a strictly fallen activity. It has a failed past and a bankrupt future. There was no religion in Eden and there won’t be any in heaven; and in the meantime Jesus has died and risen to persuade us to knock it all off right now.”
Religion has failed and it always will. When I say I am a Christian or that Jesus is Lord and Savior people may think I am religious and some will even think that I am part of the bad part of religion. I am not. I am spiritual, I am Christian, I am a Jesus follower, but I am not and never will I be religious. I am in the process of becoming a pastor, but I am not and never will I be religious. Religion is manmade. The Christian faith story, the gospel of grace is the real good news at the heart of the universe. Come away from religion and follow a God who loves who as you are warts, fat thighs and all, a God who loves who too much to leave you that way. God’s love is so fierce, so radical that you will be changed into the very person who you made to be.
The Law was meant to prepare us for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Religion was only meant to lead us to Jesus who is the way, the truth, the light, and resurrection. Jesus did what we could never do. We merely need to trust in the person and work of Christ and we will be saved and even more we will begin to live the kind of life that always wanted to live and this life will stretch into eternity.