Jesus on Religion (A Christmas Sermon)
Christmas is a time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’d like to pay tribute in my Christmas sermon by listing a few of the teachings attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew that frame my view of religion. If only Christians could read and live by these scriptures.
Thoughts on the judgmental nature of Religion
1 Stop judging others and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Why worry about the speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, “Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,” when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Thoughts on the divisiveness of Religion
2 Beware of those who come to divide. You can detect them by the way that they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced.
Thoughts on the greed of religious leaders
3 Why do the teachers of religion, by their traditions, violate their commandments? For instance, the commandments says, “Honor your father and mother.” But they say “You don’t need to honor your parents by caring for their needs if you give the money to God instead.” And so, by their own tradition, they nullify their commandments.
Thoughts on the many ritualistic laws within Religion
4 Listen to what I say and try to understand. You are not defiled by what you eat; you are defiled by what you say and do. Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes out of the body. But evil words come from and evil heart and defile the person who says them. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands could never defile you.
Thoughts on leadership in Religion
5 You know that in this world there are tyrants and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant. I came here not to be served but to serve others.
Thoughts on the legalistic nature of Religion
6 The religious teachers crush you with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to help ease the burden. They enjoy the attention. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. 7 How terrible it is for the teachers of religion who are careful to tithe on even the tiniest part of their income but they ignore the important things- justice, mercy, and faith. They strain water so they won’t accidentally swallow a gnat; then swallow a camel.
Thoughts on the hypocrisy of Religion
8 How terrible it is for the teachers of religion who are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are filthy – full of greed and self-indulgence! They try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside their hearts are filled with hypocrisy. (taken from Matthew)
– The de-Convert