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Religious Extremism

The danger of becoming excessively, obtrusively, or sentimentally religious.

Ever since I ordered a DVD from a Messianic Jewish Ministry, I have been receiving promotional material from them.

ON THEIR ORDER CARD there is a checkbox with the statement, "It is an absolute must for the Christian Church to welcome Jews and the Messianic Jewish movement with open arms." This is followed with an option to mark whether you agree or disagree with the statement.

To me, this statement demonstrates a lack of spiritual discernment and is seemingly based solely upon a prideful practice of religion [a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices] and religiosity [excessively, obtrusively, or sentimentally religious] -- the same thing Jesus chided the religious leaders of his day for.

First of all, did not Jesus teach that we are to be like little children if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven (see Matthew 18:1-4). Did not "the disciple that Jesus loved" write, "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18 ESV)? Is it loving to tell or imply to others what they MUST do in order to be accepted? Truthfully? And while we are on the subject of truth, is it not true that in the eyes of Christ everyone who has been "born again" is a part of HIS Church? (See Matthew 16:18). So why is there so much division among those who profess to follow Christ?

As I have already suggested, it all comes back to practicing RELIGION rather than surrendering our hearts and our lives over to Christ and allowing his Spirit to fill our heart with his holy love and compassion. In short, Christ is not truly LORD of our life when we choose to follow the dictates of religion rather than the leading of His Holy Spirit (see John 14:15-21).

That is why Jesus said,
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'" (Matthew 7:21-23 RSV)

So the next time you are tempted to think that "church" is something you attend, remember where Christ said the kingdom of God actually resides - within you/me/us (Luke 17:20-21). And the next time someone tries to convince you (or reinforce to you) that only the [fill in the blank - Catholics, Protestants, Messianic Jews, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc.] is the only TRUE church and everyone else has got it wrong; just remember John 14:6.



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