Pet Religion

Pet Religion

I won’t lie. I’m struggling with jealousy. How someone is able to make money on a concept so outrageously simple yet completely useless…it is frustrating. My children came home the other day with pet rocks. They glued together these molded “rocks” in the shape of a turtle. I would love to know how the entrepreneur pitched the idea of pet rocks to a room full of business executives. It must have been brilliant. Pet rocks are nearly the perfect pet. They are manageable and easily controlled. They do not require any responsibility. I do not have to remind my children to feed and water them. Pet rocks are nearly the perfect pet, however, they are dead.

Jesus preached messages which raised eyebrows and dander. In his hometown of Nazareth, his straightforward preaching provoked a cliffhanging parade. What stirred up the people? Jesus told them, they, like their forefathers, would miss out on the blessings from God if they were content with their pet religion. Historically, God desired to do great works through Israel, but their complacency hindered the work. He wished to be glorified through them but instead used two Gentiles in the Old Testament—a Sidonian woman and a Syrian man. Jesus was offering a message which was more dynamic than their religious rituals, but they would rather silence the messenger than accept the truth about themselves. The “old wine” was better in their opinion. Whatever Christ was peddling, they weren’t buying.

A tour through the American church shows not much has changed. People have debated “hot issues” for a long time. They squabble over lifeless preferences in public worship or personal holiness. They have their pet religion which is controllable, doesn’t require much nourishment, but it’s lifeless. Be aware! While we gossip about what they are doing and ridicule what they are not doing, we are comparing our pet religious practices while Christ has been offering a powerful relationship with God. He was preaching a relationship which feeds the hungry with righteousness and heals the hurting of sin. He was preaching a message which fills the barren nets. He was offering a power which raises the paralytic and rescues the prodigal. Too many are focused on defending their feelings rather than following their Savior.

The Spirit-led life nullifies the debate of pet religions. When people are dying, the responders do not have time to fritter away debating the model of the ambulance or the style of the siren. They only need the serum of faith—the victory which overcomes the world. Simply preach the word, live entirely distinct from the world, and leave your personal preferences for pet religions at the cross where you died with Christ, and you will experience the power of living with Christ through a God-glorifying ministry.

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