A Word to the Wise: Did Jesus come to abolish religion?

By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
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Religion gets a bad name from time to time. Sometimes it may seem to be a deserved chiding. Jeff Bethke has earned over 19 million views for his YouTube post titled, “Why I hate Religion but Love Jesus.” In it he asserts that “Jesus came to abolish religion.” Did He? I have often defined “religion” as an organized attempt to hold to and practice a certain set of beliefs. Its bad reputation comes from people doing things in its name that are unpopular or even downright evil. It has been said that religion put Jesus on the cross. Speaking of Jesus, He seemed to reserve His strongest denunciations for those who thought themselves holy and religious (see Matthew 23). But did He come to abolish religion? The best answers will come from what the gospels record of His words. Jesus said He came “not to abolish but to fulfill the law” (Matthew 5:17). In Matthew 9:13 He said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” The Message translation of Matthew 10:34 states, “Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut.” There is more. In Luke 19:10 Jesus declares, “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save those who are lost” and in Luke 12:49, (Message again), “I’ve come to start a fire on this earth.” Finally, in the gospel of John we read, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind” (9:39). One of my favorites is John 10:10 –”I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” Finally, John 12:46 records Jesus saying, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” The number one question of Bible study is – “What else does the Bible have to say?” It would do us well to continue searching the scriptures in order to discover, from the Bible, why Jesus came into the world. People who say, “Jesus – Yes, Church – No” do not actually have that choice. It is the height of hubris to declare that I do not need what Jesus said He would build, establishing it with His death and resurrection. Religion is imperfect because we are imperfect, but when done right it helps us get and stay closer to God. Let’s “do it” right! You can reach Tom at