Summary: Religion vs. Relationship

I will start by reading a book excerpt from the June 3,1989 issue of Today in the Word, published by the Moody Bible Institute. As I read, see if you can guess whom is being spoke of.

He made free use of Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government. He assumed the earnestness of a man weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Indeed, ..….Adolf Hitler was a master of outward religiosity... The book is titled Hitler, God and the Bible.

I have a question for you to think about as I read from Romans. Why do the majority of non-Christians reject Christianity? The answers and percentages will surprise you. I'll give a few clues & ask again in a minute. I had planned to speak on something more glamorous this morning, like God’s Righteousness Through Faith. I already had my notes started, but then I had writers block. That little voice in my head kept bringing me back to this. Righteousness Through Faith will have to wait another week.

Romans 2:19-24

19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which has the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21 You therefore which teaches another, teach thou not thyself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 Thou that say a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? thou that abhor idols, do you commit sacrilege? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.

Romans 3:9-12

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. 10 As it is written:“There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.12 They have all turned aside;They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”

The Barna Research Group asked non-Christians why they rejected Christianity. The most often listed reasons had nothing to do with theological questions or matters of faith versus evidence. Their answers are rather heart-breaking. Any guesses yet? 87% of those surveyed cited that Christians were too judgmental, while 85% responded that Christians were hypocritical. Nearly 2,000 years have passed since Pauls' letter was written. Has anything changed?

Muhatma Gandhi is listed by Time magazine as the third most influential person of the 20th century. He once said “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. I'd be a Christian if not for the Christians.”

There is a story behind that statement. As a young man, Gandhi had read the New Testament and wanted to learn more about the Gospel. He went to a church in Calcutta India and was stopped at the door. Because of his appearance, he wasn't allowed in. He never returned.

Jesus dealt with religious hypocrisy throughout His ministry. Organized religion was one of the strongest critics of Jesus. A popular representation of Jesus is of a meek, mild-mannered, apologetic, non-confrontational person. That is not the Biblical Jesus. Jesus often went face to face with the religious hypocrites of His day. These were men sent by the High Priest to instigate a public response by Jesus. (On a side-note, meek as in “the meek shall inherit the earth” does not mean the same in the ancient Greek language as it means today. The Greek meaning refers to a wild animal that is tamed, such as a horse. It still has its original strength, but that power is refined and focused. It means having power at our disposal, but not using it. We will come back to that at another time.)

Matthew 23:25-28

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

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