You can see why religion made Jesus so mad and why He was actually moved to action. He knows that church attendance alone, if left unchecked with real involvement with others, turns people into pharisees—and that if unchallenged, this leaven creates a justified apathy that ends up exploiting the people who really need God the most. Religion takes up a lot of time and money and delivers very little. This type of faith is of no use to Jesus, and if Jesus called out His closest friends on this issue, we should consider an occasional integrity check. I make this critique with quite a bit of caution because I don’t want to be an alarmist or a downer on the church that I love. But people outside our faith would stand up and cheer if we would be honest and consider a little good-hearted critique of what we call “church.” Let me go further: I’m a huge church lover. I pastor a local body, and I believe that the church throughout history has shown its ability to mobilize people for the good of humanity. Whether involved in social programs, neighborhood benevolence, Protestant work ethic, hospitals, schools, or just good ol’ fashioned generosity, Christians account for a staggering percentage of social good throughout the world. Yet as we approach a new world fraught with injustice, hunger, disease, poverty, and social and sexual exploitation—and as the world looks for the true face of God to believe in—I feel we can no longer view the viability of the church through the lens of a Sunday church service. That’s simply not the time we do our best work.
(Hugh Halter. FLESH)