A lot of people are skeptical of Christianity and the the church in general. You’ll often hear statements like, “I don’t believe in organized religion.” How should we respond?
Take It Back To Jesus
Our goal isn’t to convince lost people that church is cool. We are witnesses of the Risen Lord, this is about Jesus. Jesus is the Savior of sinners, not a cool Sunday service.
When people say they don’t like organized religion, ask them their thoughts about Jesus Christ. More pointedly, ask them if their position on organized religion means that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead.
If they think Jesus is dead, why go to church? Who cares? Why be in a huff over organized religion if its founder is a loser?
But, if Jesus is alive—everything changes. Their thoughts about the church and “organized religion” have to be seen in light of the risen Lord. Since Jesus is breathing, everything the Bible says about Jesus’ church has weight to it. It is solid. If Jesus conquered the largest obstacle in our lives—that’d be death—than we need to listen, and seriously consider everything his book says.
- Jesus said he was going to build his church (Matt. 16:18).
- Jesus came for the church (Acts 20:28).
- Jesus picked twelve leaders to start his church.
- Jesus is the head of the church (Eph. 5:23).
Jesus wants a church; if he didn’t, don’t you think he would have told the apostles in Acts to stop organizing and corrupting his vision for Christianity? In Acts they are meeting, structuring themselves, sending out missionaries, appointing leaders, etc. I don’t think Jesus wants a disorganized religion.
Jesus loves the church (Eph. 5:25). You can’t truly follow Jesus and not be a part of his church. It’s backwards. The New Testament doesn’t recognize that as Christianity.
A Rebellious Christian
If they profess to be a Christian and are against the church, then they should be called to obey Jesus, who is the head of the church, which is his body. To have Jesus, the head, is to also have his body, the church.
A professing Christian that is against the church is against Christ. If you are anti-Church, you are acting more like Satan, more like an anti-Christ, than your professed Savior.
The New Testament is clear, Christians are meant to belong to a local church (Heb. 10:24). I’ve met far too many Christians who are too “mature” to obey the Bible and go to church. Sheesh. Repentance is in order.
God Isn’t Against Organization
There is nothing wrong with the words “organized” and “religion.” But put them together and people get goosebumps.
God isn’t against organized religion. The entire Old Testament shows that. And the New Testament affirms the gathering, structuring, and ministry activity of God’s people for the sake of God’s glory and the spread of the gospel. Again, the Bible doesn’t prefer a disorganized religion, “But all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
So, the bigger reality is not what we think about “organized religion,” frankly, it doesn’t matter; the greater question is what does God think?
God is pro-organization. I’ll just give two pieces of evidence. Exhibit A: the Bible. And exhibit B: the universe.
What Do They Mean By “Organized Religion”?
When discussing or debating a word or phrase, define it. Ask what they mean by “organized religion”—it takes the conversation from the clouds to the ground. And then you can get going somewhere.
What they probably mean by “organized religion” is that they don’t want to be a part of some system that doesn’t care about them, doesn’t help them, just wants their money, etc. And I’d agree. That sucks. And frankly, that’s how Satan would run a “church”—which is not a church.
So, yeah, I’m against that kind of organized religion too—we all should be.
But the New Testament gives a different vision for the church—the main metaphor used is that of a family.
No one is against a family—or organized families.
We are brothers and sisters in Christ. God is our Father and Jesus is our big brother. We are adopted into God’s family (Rom. 8:15). We aren’t a perfect family. But we are family. There is real love, joy, and harmony to be had among the family God, the body of Christ, the local church.
We ought to acknowledge—and repudiate—the yuck of abusive, manipulative, serpent-like “organized religion,” and put forward the compelling vision of the family of God.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42–47).
J.A. Medders is the Lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in Tomball, TX. He and Natalie have two kids, Ivy and Oliver. Jeff digs caffeinated drinks, books, and the Triune God. He blogs at www.jamedders.com and tweets from @mrmedders. Jeff’s first book, Gospel-Formed: Living a Grace-Addicted, Truth-Filled, Jesus-Exalting Life, is set to release this November from Kregel.
Originally published on JAMedders.com “How to Handle the ‘I Hate Organized Religion’ Talk.” Used with permission.