Why Your Religion Isn’t Working

You’ve probably forgotten that Christianity is about God’s forgiveness, NOT your goodness!

And that is one of the reasons it can confidently be said that God is not a Christian, including Jesus (or Immanuel – “God with us” in human flesh!). And when I say God, I mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as Gregory of Nazianzus has said, and Martin Davis reminds us on his blog.

Yes, to be a Christian is to be aware that you are not good, even after all of your confession, baptism, and good work like faithful attendance at a Gospel (Jesus) proclaiming Church! Don’t get me wrong – all of these things ARE GOOD because they are supposed to remind each of us that “there is none good, no not one”, EXCEPT Jesus Christ, AND that he shares His goodness with us EVEN IN OUR CURRENT BADNESS!!!)

These sacraments, or signs pointing to Jesus, are simply (and profoundly!) nothing less than the practical ways we participate in and experience the fact that ONLY God is Good, and apart from him we can do nothing!

Confession is to say “I confess that I am not good apart from Jesus! I am only good IN HIM! I admit that it is only through the grace of shared relationships, experiences, and the opening of my eyes to see Who he is and who I am in Him, that Jesus has brought me to realize that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing!”

To be Baptized is to proclaim, “It was Jesus’ one baptism 2000 years ago that washed all of humanity clean and was a fitting human response to the Father in fallen flesh. ONLY in His literal humanity, and lack of sin in fallen flesh, was humanity adopted, made truly obedient, renewed, and lifted up into the Life of the Trinity! I participate with Him in His baptism, NOW, PUBLICLY displaying my belief in His One Baptism of, and for, everyone in Himself!”

Even to experience the good work of faithful attendance at a Gospel (Jesus!) proclaiming Church is to demonstrate and shout boldly to the Cosmos “We are All welcome at the Divine Party where sinners (every human being on the planet!) are celebrated as the Children the Father Always wanted and claimed in Jesus 2000 years ago! We are sinners because we have completely misunderstood the heart of the Father and thought He was all about rules! He’s not! We were mistaken! We can eat and celebrate at the party anyway because it’s not about our Goodness – It’s about His forgiveness!! Let’s PARRRR-TAYYYYYY!!!”

WARNING: If we keep forgetting this truth of the Gospel, we’ll keep making the same HUGE mistake that religious people of every generation make.

As Baxter Kruger states eloquently and hauntingly in his little booklet The Parable of the Dancing God, regarding religious people:

They invent their own terms. Instead of recognizing their own failure and nothingness, and then basking in the Father’s sheer grace and living in His lavish embrace, they create a religion. They create imaginary definitions, so that they can convince themselves that they are good, righteous and loving. And things get so twisted and wrongheaded, they cannot get to grips with a gracious Father who embraces and accepts the fallen ones, nor a Jesus who receives them freely and treats them as old friends. They never know the real God and life in His pleasure. Their self-righteousness keeps them from seeing and experiencing His grace. They never join in the divine party. How could they? They do not see themselves as desperate failures who stand helpless and powerless to change–they are doing religion. Inevitably, bitterness wells up within their heart when they see the free-ness of the Father’s embrace and His lavish feast. And their religious presence stifles the marvel of amazed sinners and turns the celebration into a dead and boring act of “religious service” to God, which is lifeless and vacuous of glory. (pp. 25-26)

Yikes! That’s exactly what’s happened, and why our religion isn’t working! Help us Holy Spirit, cause we, our kids, our grandchildren, and our single mothers and fathers REALLY want to “PARRRR-TAYYYYYY!!!” Ha-Ha!

~ Timothy Brassell

6 comments so far

  1. Margaret on

    Hey! PARRR-TAYYY on Dude! We ALL live in grace! God IS good and EVERYTHING He does is good! Thanks!

  2. tjbrassell on

    Wow! Another Sister enjoying the Divine Parrr-tayyy! Glad to share in His encouragement with you Margaret, and thanks for the enthusiastic response! Peace, Love and Blessings!

  3. John Stonecypher on

    The word PARR-TAAAAYYY ought to be used more often in theology. I love what you say here, Tim, especially the stuff about sacraments. But I do have a semantical bone to pick… I think we CAN say Christianity is about goodness, IF we’re careful in how we define ‘goodness.’ If goodness is just about rule-keeping, then I certainly agree with you. But if we’re talking about beauty of the love/harmony/wholeness of the Triune Life, then Christianity certainly IS about that. Christianity is about the divine truth/goodness/beauty being earthed and en-fleshed. Because of sin, forgiveness became necessary for achieving that goal. But of course, as you say so powerfully, all human goodness is nothing but a participation in HIS goodness. I enjoyed this post!

  4. tjbrassell on

    Hey John! Dude you KNOW I agree with you! Ha-Ha! In His gracious goodness you hit all my points right on the head! Forgiveness is good, and shared with us in His goodness, therefore we are good, but good only in His goodness!

    I am not sure what copy of my post you saw BUT, I placed this new wording in the post to clarify the semantical point you are making: “I confess that I am not good apart from Jesus! I am only good IN HIM!”

    Thanks for the encouraging and educational feedback! Peace, Love and Blessings!

  5. John Geerlings on

    Thanks Tim
    There are so many thoughts that are misplaced in the closet of self-rightness in our Christian religion. Here is a quote by N.T Wright from his book “Surprised by Hope” that follows your thinking.

    “To embrace the ascension is to heave a sigh of relief, to give up the struggle to be God (and with it the inevitable despair at our constant failure), and to enjoy our status as creatures: image-bearing creatures, but creatures nonetheless.” jg

  6. tjbrassell on

    Thanks John! Well said, and a book well quoted and read! I am in the midst of reading that book and contemplating the Ascension of Jesus, so I really appreciate the tie-in, and especially learning to “enjoy our status as creatures: image bearing creatures, but creatures nonetheless.” Sigh! Peace, Love and Blessings!

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