I don’t make a habit of sharing my faith in the workplace anymore. It can be a tad annoying for people trying to do their job when a zealous Christian is preaching their Gospel at them! But occasionally I get triggered into it, yesterday was such a time. A young man mentioned to me that his Grandfather is “very religious” and that he “preaches and teaches religion”. “Okay” I thought, “interesting.” But then…
Then this young fellow who has a gentle nature, easy to get along with and very teachable spirit said something that touched upon all that God my Father has been delivering me from over the last 10 years. He told me that his grandfather, the Christian, was sitting with him one morning at their family home having breakfast and turned and looked my friend in the eye and said these words….
“You give me bad vibes! You are a son of the Devil! It hurt me a bit actually…no, it really did hurt me, coming from my own grandfather.“
It is a sad sad thing to write about but…the Gospel according to many believers is terrible news, not good news at all. It is repugnant, harsh, uncaring, unkind and unloving news. What makes a Grandfather say such things to his young grandson? “You are a son of the Devil!” ? I want you to know that I apologised to my friend for what his relative told him. I admitted that I have said similar things in the past and am ashamed to have said and believed those things.
The Gospel according to many people goes like this….
‘I am saved by faith in Jesus, I am a child of God. You other people are lost, therefore you are not a child of God, but a child of the Devil. You need to repent of your sins….and then maybe God will receive you.’
By repent, they mean you have to stop sinning…you must stop lying, stop stealing, stop whatever it is that is wrong. When in actual fact repentance is NOT stopping sinning!
Repentance is turning to see Jesus Christ. Repentance is Believing in Jesus Christ.
Jesus encountered this same judgemental Gospel in his conflict with the religious people of His day. The Pharisees were very zealous for their brand of Judaism and were constantly clashing with Jesus. But one particular day what Jesus told them exposes a whole world of delusion and deceit. This grandfather, like so many Christians is in torment and cannot help but put that torment upon others. This is what I told my young friend….I quoted from memory the following verse to him…
Mat 23:15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
I said to the young man that,
“Far from you being a son of the Devil….It is actually your Grandfather who is the son of the Devil….and he would want you to become like him, which if you did, Jesus says, you will become twice as much a son of the Devil as your Grandfather is!!“
These religious folk travel land and sea to win converts to their religion….they do this because they are in torment. They are afraid of what will happen to them if they do not try to win converts. They are afraid that their “God” will throw them into Hell forever and ever if they do not obey Him. They live in constant fear, though they do not recognise it. They know nothing of God’s love for them or for all other people, instead they believe that God is a harsh person who has chosen some for salvation and MOST for the fire!
The young man listened and made some “ooohhh” and “arrrrhhh” sounds in recognition of what I was telling him. He said his grandfather has wiped his hands of him, and never comes to see them anymore.
It is my suspicion, that this young man with his gentle demeanour and kind ways, though he is not a believer and not born again….threatens the Grandfather who is seething in the torment which hypocrisy creates inside his soul. The Accuser tells the Grandfather that “This young man is more like Jesus than I am.” Thus he must damage the relationship in order to not have to be around such a gentle soul….his own emptiness cannot bear to compete and to be shown to be empty of God.
But in saying that Gary(not his real name) “is a son of the Devil”, he links himself directly to Jesus words in Matthew 23. What Christian(a name for Grandfather)is really telling Gary is that “I AM A SON OF THE DEVIL!” Whenever we judge other we are speaking out of what is going on in our own hearts. So Jesus was exposing all this for the sake of the Pharisees.
“Woe to you!! Woe to you!!”(Mtt 23:13-16) – Jesus was feeling their pain, which they did not even know was so obvious. But Jesus could feel it projecting out from them, through all their religious garb and outward pious looks. Pain..pain pain…like the beating of a slow drum. Their every heartbeat was filled with pain and anguish…Torment, torment, torment!!! ‘I must serve God! I must win proselytes to God! I must be holy! I am dirty and a failure, but I must not let anyone see that. I must try to be like God wants me to be. I am afraid …so very afraid…..But no…I must be strong, and assert my dominance over others in order to be like God…the High and Holy One‘.
Mat 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
This is the first thing our loving Saviour brings up in reference to the religious spirit that afflicts so many of us. Rules!! Rules and more rules! The very word Religion to the mind of someone who does not know God is directly related to RULES. Those who keep God at arms length do so by creating a god of rules. The very rules that they try to keep, whether they are God’s commandments or some they have invented themselves, they cannot and DO NOT keep. They fail to keep the commandments, though they pretend that they do keep them. They are terrified that they will be found out to be sinners themselves. They live under bondage to the god of rules….and do not know God at all. They imagine that to know God they must keep rules….but through the Law comes the knowledge of SIN….which is separation from God.
The more they try to keep rules, I must be holy, I must be righteous, I must pray, I must do this and do that, and not do that!! The more they are aware inwardly of their disconnection from God and their utter failure to please God. They try harder , and in trying harder they must pretend more and more to be successful. Thus they are in torments in Gehenna, in the fire where the criminal’s bodies were thrown to burn in never ending fire…where their worm does not die. They are constantly being eaten by the worms of accusation and fear. This is the life that so many Christians live in.
Out from that torment they go to win others to their same pit of fear. They themselves are a son of Hell(Gehenna)….Jesus said they are.(Mtt 23:15) The religious are sons of Hell…or a son of the Devil! And they would teach others to become a son of Hell too. The doctrines and teachings of the Church of Jesus…will make you a son of Gehenna as well! Tormented. Accused. Guilty. Ashamed. Condemned. Terrified. Hypocrite. Pretender. Up tight. Critical.
How does this happen? The first thing Jesus said was to come under the heavy burden –the bondage no man can carry-The Law! That is how you become a son of Hell. Preachers all over the church world lay the Law upon God’s children and if any will come under the Law, they are now twice as much a son of Hell as the preacher…for now they are not only in bondage to the Law, not ever able to keep it…but they are in bondage to the preacher who is always watching them, like the Accuser himself, ready to pounce upon and preach AT their every failure to keep what he says they must keep!!
These preachers of the Law know very well that they are failing to keep the law, but self deceit forces them to pretend that they are doing fine. Outward show is the rule of the day. And you will become like your teacher, Jesus said so. They cannot free anyone from the heavy bondage that is ‘trying to keep law’…they cannot do it for themselves and they cannot do it for the proselytes that are “under” their “care”.
They shut up the kingdom of heaven for themselves, and for others! They themselves are children of the Devil even as they claim the name of Jesus. They refuse to accept that they are totally unable to please God . They refuse to acknowledge that it is Christ alone who pleases God. By preaching Keep the Law…they shut the kingdom of grace to all who come under their message.
These are the WOES of the religious pious person….and it makes Jesus weep.