The Word of the Father, of Jesus, and of the Spirit impels us to follow the Way of Jesus that challenges and overcomes the Power of Religion. By following the Way of Jesus, our words and actions will crush the Power of Religion. How? By sharing in the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as symbolized by baptism. (Romans 6:2-8; Galatians 5:24-25; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
Beware the Power of Religion.
I don’t mean the Power that comes from living on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).
I don’t mean the Power that comes from loving the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:36-38; Mark 12:28-30; Luke 10:25-28).
I don’t mean the Power that comes from loving our neighbors as ourselves. (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39-40; Mark 12:28-34: Luke 10:25-37).
I don’t mean the Power that comes from “in everything, do[ing] to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12).
I don’t mean the Power that comes from fulfilling the Law and the Prophets the Way that Jesus did. (Matthew 5:17; 7:12).
I don’t mean the Power that comes from following the Way of Jesus.
I’m referring to the Power of Religion that tempts people to “jump off the Temple”. As I discuss in my blog “Do Not Jump Off the Temple”, the devil tempted Jesus to prove he was the Messiah by having angels catch him after he jumped off the Temple.
Jesus refused to test and manipulate the LORD our God by showing off this way.
During this pandemic, this temptation to “jump off the Temple” manifests itself in people who ignore prudent, professional health recommendations. They claim that they don’t have to worry about catching the Virus because God will protect and heal them.
Such people show off the Power of their Religion by tempting people to attend a worship service in person, testing and manipulating the LORD our God to “send angels” to keep the Virus from infecting those who attend the worship service.
Instead of showing off this way, we should follow the Way of Jesus by refusing to test the LORD our God.
Instead of showing off this way, we should find ways to use technology so that everyone can worship the LORD safely, prudently and wisely.
The issue is not whether God has the power to save us when we “jump off the Temple”. I firmly believe that God had the power to catch Jesus if he jumped off the Temple and to rescue Jesus while he hung on the cross.
The issue is that we must not test God. We must not try to manipulate God.
Instead, we must love the LORD our God.
Instead, we must live on every Word of the Father, of Jesus, and of the Spirit to challenge and overcome the Power of Religion.
Some people use the Power of their Religion to crush people by manipulating the words that come from the mouth of God. (Genesis 3:1-5).
For example, religious leaders, scholars, and lawyers hypocritically went “to Jesus to catch him in his words”. (Mark 12:13).
These religious leaders, scholars, and lawyers started by flattering Jesus. “They came to him and said, ‘Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.’” (Mark 12:14).
After flattering him, these religious leaders, scholars, and lawyers tried to trap Jesus. How? By getting Jesus to say something that would get him tortured and crucified by the Romans (who had occupied all of Israel, including Jerusalem.).
These religious hypocrites asked Jesus: “Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” (Mark 12:14-15).
They thought that Jesus must answer yes or no. If Jesus said “yes”, the crowds in the Temple would be mad at Jesus because they hated to pay taxes to the hated Romans. But if Jesus said “no”, the Romans would torture and kill Jesus.
Jesus outsmarted them. He “knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ he asked.” (Mark 12:15).
Then Jesus gave these religious hypocrites an answer whose wisdom endures to this very day.
Jesus told them: “‘Bring me a denarius and let me look at it’ They brought the coin, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’” (Mark 12:15-16).
They said, “Caesar’s” (Mark 12:16).
Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17).
When Jesus was on trial for his life a few days later, these religious hypocrites lied and distorted many of the words of Jesus. (Matthew 26:59-60; Mark 14:55-56; Luke 23:1-5). For example, they told the Roman governor, Pilate, that Jesus “opposes payment of taxes to Caesar.” (Luke 23:1-2).
Pilate knew the charges were false. (Luke 23:4). He knew that it was out of their own self-interest that these religious hypocrites were urging him to torture and crucify Jesus. (Mark 15:10). Nevertheless, Pilate caved in to the Power of their Religion. (Mark 15:6-15).
And so, the Power of Religion crushed Jesus. He was mocked, tortured and killed.
Nevertheless, on Easter Sunday morning, Jesus crushed the Power of Religion. God resurrected him, giving Jesus “[a]ll authority in heaven and on earth”. (Matthew 28:18).
By following the Way of Jesus, our words and actions will crush the Power of Religion.
How? By sharing in the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as symbolized by baptism. (Romans 6:2-8; Galatians 5:24-25; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
By going fully under the water to be baptized, we symbolically confirm our decision to suffer and die with Jesus, crucifying our former ways of sinful living. By rising from the water, God symbolically resurrects our life so that we may have eternal life—a life that we enjoy in this life and in the life to come. (John 10:10; Romans 6:2-8).
By crucifying the Power of Religion in our life, we will truly enjoy our life now and in the life to come!
By crucifying the Power of Religion in our civilization, we will build a civilization that is good—that is very good!
To read more about the Power of Religion, please read my blogs “Fear Not the Pestilence That Stalks in the Darkness”, “Pilate: The Love of Power”, “Jezebel and Ahab: Greed, Lies and Violence”, “Jesus Climbs the Temple Mount”, “Timothy: A Good Shepherd”, and “St. Francis of Assisi Made the Way of Jesus Great Again”.
To read more about the Power of Religion, please read the chapter “Ahab Takes Naboth’s Vineyard” in my book Healing the Promised Land, at pages 221-233, and the chapters “Caiaphas Tells the Sanhedrin That Jesus Must Die”, “Jesus Defeats Caiaphas’ Cronies”, and “Pilate Bows to the Political Pressure To Crucify Jesus” in my book Hoping in the LORD, at pages 215-217, 229-233, 277-285.
To read about how to build a civilization that is good—that is very good, please read my blog “How Do We Build a Civilization That Is Good—That Is Very Good?” and the related chapter “Nimrod’s Wars and Babel’s Arrogant Selfishness” in my book The Promised Land, at pages 21-24.
To read about how we light the world, not by might nor by power, but by God’s Spirit so we bless all people, please read my book, Lighting the World, especially the chapter “God’s Power Is Made Perfect in Our Weakness” at pages 139-142.
To read about the importance of Freedom of Religion to protect Americans from the Power of Religion, please read the sections “The First Americans: The Pilgrims”, “Visions of America”, “Roger Williams and ‘Religious Freedom’”, “The Great Awakening”, and “The Bill of Rights” in my book Visions of America, at pages 16-21, 49-52.
To read about how God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, please read the section “Who Is the Greatest?” and the chapter “Relying Upon the Lunar Module” in my book Visions of the Church, at pages 177-185.