Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Disturbing Theology

Posted: February 2, 2011 in Theology
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Dave Draiman

Recently I heard a song I hadn’t heard in a while by metal giants “Disturbed”. In addition to various social and political themes, Disturbed’s music often contains spiritual overtones which seem to stem largely from lead singer Dave Draiman’s upbringing as an orthodox Jew. Draiman has since essentially walked away from Judaism and embraced what appears to be some sort of universalistic worldview (Disturbed’s 2002 album entitled “Believe” featured a cover with every major religious symbol rolled into one…) Listening to the laments offered up in Disturbed’s 2005 track “Overburdened”, I’m reminded how Draiman, like all of us, have wrestled with questions surrounding eternal security and what it is that ultimately sets us right with God.

The first few verses of “Overburdened” read as such:

 Hell is still overburdened
I must stand and wait in line
I may never know for certain
When will be my time
How was I considered evil?
Pleasures taken in this life
Someone granted me reprieval
Decades spent in strife

Led to nothing
Repeated in my mind
Led to nothing
If only I was born another time

Hell is still overburdened
I must stand and wait in line
Hell is still overburdened
How have I been so determined malign?

Draiman goes on to say:

Seems I have committed treason
All I’ve sacrificed

Led to nothing

All I hear in listening to this track is summed up in one word: justification. John Calvin once said that justification is the “foundation of all religion”. Every world religion or philosophy seems to have its own take on justification; that is, what puts us into right relationship with God. The doctrine that ultimately split Christianity and served as the catalyst for the Protestant reformation is still as central an issue today as its ever been (truth is timeless isn’t it?). As Martin Luther rightly said, the issue of justification is the issue on which the church “stands or falls.”

Essentially, every man-made religion seems to have designed justification the same way…it’s all about me and what I do. So if I live the right way, make the right sacrifices, do the right things, then God will be pleased with me. I will be set right with God. I will have earned my salvation by my performance.

It’s all about what I do. The Gospel on the other hand, the good news, is the brilliant diamond in the rough of works based theology. It’s the news that changes everything.

The Gospel says it’s not about me. The Gospel says it’s not about what I do. The Gospel says it’s not about my life, my obedience, my sacrifice, or my performance (thank God…). The Gospel says it’s about Jesus’ life, Jesus’ obedience, and Jesus’ sacrifice. The Gospel says I haven’t earned anything but hell; that everything else is by God’s grace. That all who come to trust in the finished work of Christ will be made clean, reconciled to God, and will inherit eternal life.

Christianity is a complete inversion of man-made religion. Every man-made religion involves, not coincidentally, man at its center trying to manipulate himself back to God through white knuckle effort, feats of morality, a spiritual experience, etc. All are a self-salvation project marked by pride and good works.

8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Eph 2:8-9

Grace really levels the playing field. There isn’t a human being alive that is going to stand before God and be justified by his or her resume (Rom 3:20).

And praise God that we don’t have to. That the triune, Holy God came into human history and did for us what we could never do for ourselves.

Decades spent in strife

Led to nothing

All I’ve sacrificed

Led to nothing

I have good news for Dave Draiman. There’s an answer for all who are overburdened by religion…

 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

 Freedom awaits…

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Religion and Rebellion

Posted: December 12, 2010 in Gospel
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Before I became a follower of Jesus I was on the path of rebellion against God. I basically didn’t care what He had to say about my life or this world in general. He was irrelevant. His boundaries seemed stupid. And frankly, the people who claimed to be close to Him really freaked me out. Prior to becoming a Christian I think I was exposed to every real life Ned Flanders this side of Springfield.

Anyway, rebellion, though it seemed attractive at the time, ultimately led to pride and despair. It nearly destroyed me until God led me to the Gospel. The Gospel is where I found forgiveness. The Gospel is where I found life. The Gospel is where I found incredible freedom.

And then at some point I took a detour. And that detour began to lead me to the same result as the path of rebellion…pride and despair. By God’s grace, I currently find myself in spiritual and communal rehab as God leads me in an understanding of what went wrong along the way. And all indications are that might take a while.

That detour, by the way, was religion. In the simplest definition I can provide at this point in my journey, by religion I simply mean trusting in myself to bridge the gap between myself and God. Following Jesus largely became about “trying”…trying to serve more, trying to love more, trying to read more, study more, pray more, etc, etc. My understanding slowly deteriorated to “I know I’m messy, I know I’m “not perfect”, but at least I’m trying.” And somehow, by trying, God was pleased with me. I was doing good things so God would respond with His blessing. Slowly but surely, I was trying to reconcile myself to God again. Rather than trusting in the finished work of Christ’s life, death, and subsequent resurrection, I was trying to bridge that gap on my own. Essentially, I was becoming my own savior…which is exactly where I was prior to knowing Jesus.

It wasn’t always that way and it’s a challenge to discern at what point I started traveling down this path. That’s probably because the progression was slow…had I taken a sharp left away from the good news of Jesus it would have been easier to recognize. Instead I got into the slow lane of my own watered down, works-driven theology and set the cruise control to devastation. Fortunately, by God’s grace, I began to run out of gas before I hit rock bottom. Just as He pulled me out of rebellion, He is now helping me limp out of religion. I’m incredibly grateful that I serve a God that seems unwilling to allow me to suffer needlessly even when by my own foolishness, pride, and a seemingly insatiable gravitation toward that which is “comfortable”, I’m bound and determined to do so. His power, mercy, grace, and patience are mind-boggling.

Rebellion from God always leads to devastation. Perhaps to my eyes that’s easier to recognize…not only because I spent about 23 years on that path, but because I’ve always thought of it as the primary way of rejecting God. Religion, however, can be just as devastating. Maybe more so if sustained long enough. And now that I’ve gotten a taste of both and have had those experiences illuminated by great teaching, I’m beginning to realize more fully just how unique the Gospel truly is. The Gospel is so different. It stands alone. Its better than anything we could have ever imagined on our own. And I feel like it has to be central to everything we do. Or else we’ll forget. We’ll lose our way. And we’ll try to carry a burden we were never meant to try to carry.     

For me, RED sums up religion well in “Death of Me” (even if they didn’t intend to)…