Recently a YouTube video titled “Why I Love Jesus but Hate Religion” has blown up on the social media scene.  I am not as excited about this video as everyone else seems to be. This campaign against “religion” has been going on within the church for several years, and I believe it stems from a misunderstanding of the term. This man lumps everything he doesn’t like about Christianity (republican politics, religious wars, etc.) under the title of religion and tosses it out.  Defining religion as “all the bad things” doesn’t seem to match what Scripture says about the subject. God inspired James to say the following: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27) Here we clearly see that there is a certain type of religious expression that is indeed approved of by God. It is fascinating to me that the very thing this man accuses religion of not doing, caring for the poor, is the definition of pure religion given in this passage. Religion is neither good nor bad in itself, and this author truthfully points out that many religious people have done wrong things. The key question for us should be what, or more correctly, who is the object of our religious affections. Are we pursuing religious rituals and moral conformity because we want to maintain a public persona, or are we engaging in religious rituals and living within God’s protective moral boundaries because we are driven to do so by our love for Jesus Christ? I am concerned that when we attempt to score points with skeptics by ripping on religion we are actually misrepresenting something that can be honoring to God.

I believe that getting our terminology right is important, and in my judgement, this is where the man in this video goes wrong. This guy is passionate about his Savior, and think I would enjoy talking to him sometime, I just hope he develops a fuller understanding of true religion.