Monday, November 01, 2010

Grandma Looks at Religion

        When you were a little kid you might have gone, willingly or under coercion, to Sunday School, catechism, Luther League, or Vacation Bible School, etc. Many parents do this as a “religious obligation” on their part, hoping that some of the good stuff sinks into your head and makes you a better person, in the long run.
        You endured cutting and pasting, singing and doing the motions, and listening to stories of long, long ago. Maybe the pictures of Jesus and His friends had halos painted atop their heads.
        However, there’s a much more adult side to all of this. Now that you can read and reason things out, take a new look at the old stuff. What did Jesus do? What did it mean?

        For your own research you’ll need a Bible. There are four accounts of the life of Jesus in the New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Pick one and read it through. You’ll notice right away that Jesus is telling the people some really tough stuff. It’s like, “Be perfect, or else!”
        However, the religious people there were part of the crowd demanding for Jesus to be crucified. It wasn’t weakness or failure on Jesus’ part when he died, but a fulfillment of some ancient prophecies that he would come, die and then be resurrected from the dead. This happened.
        You’ll see in the following book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament what happened as a result. And you’ll notice that the followers of Jesus had a different message. Why?
        What Jesus said was meant to point out to people everywhere that it is totally impossible to ever be good enough to please God. He wanted people to realize WHY they won’t ever deserve to go to Heaven when they die.
        Then, what the followers of Jesus taught was HOW people could get their sins forgiven. They preached about God’s love and His grace, why Jesus died on the cross, like an innocent lamb was sacrificed in the olden days.
        So, if all you remembered from religion class at church or school is BE GOOD, now you’ll want to take the step of giving up. Giving up? Yes. Give up on your own talents, good looks, abilities, and sweet behavior ever earning you a place in the Sweet Bye & Bye.
        Yes, definitely Heaven is real. God didn’t create mankind just for something to do that week, when He wasn’t busy with other things. He had a masterpiece of a plan. He sees and knows what you are doing and what you are thinking. It doesn’t blow Him away to see that you were slightly bratty when you were in third grade, or that you sometimes have some radical or weird ideas. He loves you and wants to forgive you, but it has to be His way, not someone’s make-believe way or wishful thinking.
        Here’s where you do a little more Bible research. Read the first two chapters of the book of Acts and see what those first followers said and did after Jesus was raised from the dead. If you have any curiosity at all, you will read this today.
        Now, you’re interested in finding out more. Just read on in the book of Acts, (about 38 pages) and notice what happened next. For a nifty summary of the Old Testament message read Nehemiah 9, (one chapter, only 38 verses).
        No exam at the end of the book. No quiz, no teacher putting you on the spot, no deadline. Just one highly intelligent guy or gal —YOU— and the most famous book in the world, the Bible.
        Soon you’ll know your way around the book. You’ll find maps in the back, table of contents in the front. Best of all, you’ll find answers to your questions.
        All people have an inborn nature to be unkind, compulsive, selfish, and mean and stupid and lazy. God sent Jesus to save us from these and all other sins, and we can be forgiven by inviting Jesus to “take over” and be our Best Friend. We don’t get to Heaven by being good, but by accepting God’s freely-given grace.
        Grandma certainly doesn’t want you to get bogged down in “religion.” The Bible says God wants to have a relationship with you. Grandma made that decision to believe in Jesus, confessed her sins, and invited Him into her heart when she was 12 years old, and she’s been glad about it, ever since.  + + +

By Grandma Elaine Hardt ©2003