No More Cold, Hateful Religion

by | Jan 9, 2013 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

If a judgmental spirit has contaminated your walk with God, ask Him for a fresh understanding of grace.

If there were an award for Worst Example of Christianity in 2012, it would have to go to the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.

The tiny sect, based in Topeka, Kan., made headlines several times last year—most notably in December 2012 when its members planned an unsuccessful demonstration at the funeral of a victim of the Connecticut school shooting.

Fred Phelps, the 83-year-old leader of Westboro, believes innocent children died in the Connecticut tragedy because God is mad at America for tolerating gay marriage. This is why Phelps named his church’s website GodHatesFags.com and why he sends his followers to hold hateful placards at military funerals. He claims that every time a U.S. soldier dies in Afghanistan, it is God’s reminder that He’s angry at America’s moral decay. 

Personally I don’t think this group should use the term “Baptist” (Phelps describes himself as a Calvinist, but he is accountable to no one) or “church” (his members spend most of their time at protests wearing “God Hates Fags” T-shirts). They bear no resemblance to New Testament faith.

Most of us just roll our eyes when we hear of Westboro’s disgusting attempts to get publicity. Phelps has the constitutional right to say what he wants (and the Supreme Court agreed in 2011), but his angry tone makes all believers look bad. I’m sure some people have rejected the gospel because they assume all Christians share Phelps’ self-righteousness.

I have no plans to fight Phelps. I think the best counter-offensive is to show America what genuine Christian faith really is. We can begin by searching our hearts and making sure we don’t have any self-righteousness in us.

I have to be honest: As much as Phelps upsets me, I suspect I have at least a hint of his hypocrisy. And you probably do too. (If you don’t believe that, read Romans 2.)

The cry of my heart as we enter 2013 is for a genuine New Testament faith. I want the real deal. I crave humility, brokenness and compassion. I want the vibrant love of God, not cold, poisonous, hateful Phariseeism. If you agree, consider taking this questionnaire to make sure you are not harboring the spirit of religion.

How do you view God? A religious spirit sees God as a harsh, distant taskmaster rather than an approachable, loving Father. If you have not allowed God’s unconditional love to soak into the core of your being, you will misrepresent Him to others.

Do you know you are truly forgiven? The people who rail the loudest against other people’s sins often have never come to know the depths of forgiveness the Father offers. Religious people base their relationship with God on their ability to perform spiritual duties. Thus they deny the power of grace.

Are you working to earn God’s acceptance, or is your salvation based totally on Christ’s death on the cross? Religious people think God accepts them because they pray, read the Bible, attend church or abstain from certain behaviors. And they believe God gets mad if they aren’t perfect. Yet the apostle Paul told us plainly that if we are working for our salvation, we are “fallen from grace” (see Gal. 5:4).

Do you have true joy in Jesus? Those who know the true love of God enjoy a continual feast of inner celebration.Yet religious people are cynical and hypercritical, and no one wants to be around their sourness. Children who grow up in joyless religious homes usually abandon faith in adulthood.

Do you embrace other churches besides your own? Religious people think their righteousness is special and that they cannot associate with believers who have different standards. (Phelps, for example, believes Billy Graham is the greatest false prophet since Balaam!) So men like Phelps form tiny elitist clubs that focus on specific doctrines and they become vulnerable to deception.

How do you view sinners? A person who has been transformed by God’s love cares deeply for people, regardless of their race, social background, political affiliation or sexual history. Jesus showed acceptance and love to prostitutes, thieves and notorious sinners even as He called them to repentance. Yet we evangelicals have created a confusing hybrid Jesus who is compassionate on one hand, yet on the other hand is angry at homosexuals, Hollywood stars, environmentalists, Democrats, atheists, illegal immigrants and pot smokers.

The American church needs deliverance from this toxic religiosity. If we don’t correct the problem, we are really no different from Phelps. If the poison of judgmentalism has contaminated your walk with God, ask Him to pour a fresh understanding of grace into your barren spirit—and then expect His new life to flow through you in 2013.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His latest book is Fearless Daughters of the Bible

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Is He a God of Wrath or a God of Love?

Is He a God of Wrath or a God of Love?

Do you think the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath, and the God of the New Testament is a God of love? The truth is that God is the same throughout the entire Bible. His wrath and His love are revealed in both the Old and the New Testaments. So why, then, did...

How You Can Have a Perfect Heart

How You Can Have a Perfect Heart

Your heart is the most important part of you. It’s not only a physical organ that keeps your blood pumping, but when the Bible refers to the heart, it’s talking about who you really are. Each person has an inner and an outer life. There’s the person we show to...

How the FBI Raid on Mar-a-Lago Is Spiritual Warfare

How the FBI Raid on Mar-a-Lago Is Spiritual Warfare

It's been a few days since the FBI raided President Donald Trump's home in Mar-a-Lago, and the Biden Administration has yet to explain to the American people why they did what's never been done in American history—the government raiding the home of a former president....

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

Most of my life I tried to avoid one thing—being crazy or insane. When I was growing up my mother had emotional issues and saw a psychiatrist regularly. She was on medication which only seemed to make her mood swings worse. She had high highs, and low lows. When I...

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJFFqAgykmU A cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants took effect late Sunday in a bid to end nearly three days of violence that killed dozens of Palestinians and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis,...

RECENT ARTICLES

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

My husband had a saying for our children growing up. “Partial obedience is disobedience.” He wanted them to understand that doing half the plan would not get them the full reward. Another reminder...
Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a surprisingly strong July Employment Report.  Total nonfarm employment was 528K (398K previously, 250K expected).  Private nonfarm employment was 471K (404K previously, 230K expected). The headline unemployment rate dropped to...

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

The wind is a funny thing. We do not know where it comes from nor where it goes. We cannot see it, but we can see and feel its effects. Wind can be gentle and refreshing, cold or hot, strong, and dangerous, and everything in between. When the wind blows, we must...

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

It is interesting that, as a Messianic rabbi the question I am asked most often by Christians is if I believe that they as Christians have to celebrate, or observe, the biblical Holy Days. They are usually asking about those days listed in Leviticus 23: Shabbat, Yom...

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

As the crackdown against Christianity in America grows, it is a cycle believers have seen before. While no one celebrates their religious freedom coming under attack, God has used this persecution to great effect throughout history. Over the centuries, there have been...

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Change can be challenging. Some people look forward to change and embrace it. Some people dread change and try to avoid it. Since change is inevitable, so here are some of the dynamics surrounding change and the specific strategies to deal with change more...

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

This past weekend I preached at The Roads Church, a charismatic congregation located in the tiny town of Norris City, Illinois. Located amid cornfields, the population is only 1,325, but almost that many people visit the church on weekends. They come from all over...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]