“Lord I Believe”
by Pastor Allen Werk
June 17, 2017
St. Paul Lutheran Church and School

Batavia, New York    

            I am completely frustrated with religion!  Religion is empty and deceptive.  Religion holds out hope and doesn’t deliver.  Religion is a false front that looks important but has no substance.  Religion is cold and impersonal.  I know this probably sounds strange coming from a pastor.  But as a Christian pastor, I am not in the business of religion. 

            People get wrapped up in the trappings of religion and miss the real point.  Being a Christian is not about being a member of a religious organization.  Being a Christian is at it’s core a relationship with Jesus Christ.  People’s lives change for the better when they get to know Jesus and follow His teachings. 

            Religion lets you carve out a corner of your life for the religious stuff.  But when you get to know Jesus, your whole life is dedicated to being more like Him.  When you realize that Jesus has saved your life you are ready to do everything you can to thank Him over and over again.  Your friend and Savior Jesus becomes the most important thing in your life.  Everything else you do is affected by your close connection to Jesus. 

            Religion is a waste of time and energy.  It doesn’t get you any closer to God.  God had warned about this way back in the Old Testament days of Isaiah the prophet. 

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Isaiah 29:13 (NIV)

            Jesus in His own words makes this point. 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (NIV)

            That is a pretty exclusive claim.  But Jesus offers so much more than mere religion.  Everything about a relationship with Jesus is fuller and richer than participating in religious rituals.  Walking with Jesus means you have a constant companion, a ready sounding board, immediate help and support when you are in need, an always alert protector, a forgiving friend to help pick up the pieces when you fail, a gracious host planning an incredible celebration when you leave this life, an expert designer and coach shaping the very best way for you to live your life. 

            I am frustrated with religion because when people get involved with a religion they feel spiritual and stop short of meeting Jesus.  They can go through the religious motions and never really get to know the God who loves them.  They maybe think of God as the great Oz behind the curtain pulling levers and pushing buttons.  But Jesus is a real person who is eager to be intimately involved in all the details of our day to day lives.  He wants us to experience first hand His love and care and guidance and comfort.  He wants us to feel the power of His protection and support. 

            I may be frustrated with religion, but I am constantly refreshed and filled with joy as I walk with Jesus each day.  Get over the hurdle of religion and get to know Jesus.   Discover how fulfilling it is to be a faithful follower of the one true God.