“A significant issue that Jesus addresses is their (the Scribes and Pharisees) practice of loading people up with excess rules and regulations. . . . Religion does that. It crushes people under the weight of trying hard enough to be good enough, and it does nothing to ease the burden.”- Kyle Idleman
“They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.”- Matthew 23:4 (NLT)
In Chapter 5 (“Unchained from Religion”) of Don’t Give Up, Kyle Idleman talks about a kind of dead weight that disguises itself as ‘good weight’. Hence, Pastor Idleman identifies religion as that dead weight. Also, Kyle defines religion as “a system that emphasizes rules, rituals, and regulations as a way to earn God’s favor.”
Therefore, Kyle observes, the writer of Hebrews spends much of the book reconciling the Old Testament law with the Jesus who finally completes, answers, and removes its burdens once and for all. Thus, the writer of Hebrews proclaims, Jesus is superior to everything and everyone else.
Furthermore, the words translated as ‘better’ and ‘superior’ appear fifteen times in the book of Hebrews. This usage encourages us not to go back to our old ways of thinking and living, to not give up. Pastor Idleman adds:
“Don’t trade freedom in Christ for the weight of religion. Jesus is better than religion. Jesus is just better. Always has been, always will be.”
Finally, while the Bible teaches us to guard our hearts, we often follow that instruction with all types of subclauses, provisos, and codicils. And, Kyle notes, this list changes over time. But for rule aficionados, Kyle quips, “revising and amending is half the fun of religion.”
Yet, as the Pharisee who noticed Jesus chose not to wash His hands before dinner learned an important lesson. Jesus cares more about what’s inside us than outward cleanliness.
Today’s question: Do you feel bound by excess rules and regulations? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Keep on playing by those rules”