Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jesus Verses Religion

Last week, Jefferson Bethke’s spoken-word YouTube video was uploaded; and it immediately went viral.

It's worth watching. It's not without weaknesses, but it's worth watching. Enjoy, then think through some of the wise and thoughtful responses from Jared Wilson here, and Kevin DeYoung's response here. Also, check out the interaction that DeYoung and Bethke had here. These discussions are awesome, they are, as Justin Taylor noted "a model of brotherly love", as the two recognize that they work for the same side, and are seeking the same end, rather than a win. 

Here's my take. Valid critiques aside (and they are valid), what I like is that Bethke uses the careful and artistic crafted words and impressive filmography to oppose dead, false religion that preaches self- justification and a lack of concern for the things that break God’s heart, with Jesus and His Gospel. As you watch the video, you get the sense that Bethke has understands grace up close and personal, and he has a deep desire to communicate to the world the true Jesus and the true Gospel. He gets it, and he lays out the distinction between dead religion, and true Christianity clearly.

In a sermon awhile back, I shared a list from Tim Keller (who, like Bethke, recognises false religion as present in the Bible as well as today) offering a comparison of the features of ‘religion’ and ‘the Gospel’. Here is a revision of that list (which comes from the Gospel in Life) done by Tullian Tchividjian. It’s spot on, and worth revisiting as the discussion swirls.
RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted
THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity
THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God
THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.

RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life
THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs
THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.

RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment
THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I’m not confident. I feel like a failure
THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”—simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.

RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other
THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.

RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God
THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.

1 comment:

  1. Love this video, hope he will do alot more. He has done at least one more
    Hope the link works ..