God Jesus verses religion over coming power control of religions
Bad religion vs God's word
Answering question of God vs religion, and how to escape religious control
This is an interesting question that was raised: God verses religion. Religion was created to supposedly help us worship God, but religion sometimes takes control. I believe most religions start with the object of focusing on God, and worshiping him. Somewhere along the way the religious leaders and the congregation loose focus of God, and start to focus on what they believe should and should not be done.
This is not a recent problem either. Even Jesus had this problem with the religious leaders of his day. One of the major problems Jesus saw was the the leaders took over the worship of God, and created it into what they wanted it to be. Weather this was done to have control over the people, or that they themselves actually got so lost in what they perceived as the law that they lost sight of what they were suppose to be doing.
We know that the religious leaders in Jesus time got so bad in creating their man made religion that they lost sight of what they were suppose to be doing. I suspect they were not corrupt at the beginning. By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, God was not really in it any longer. There were many more man made laws they crated, than what God actually revealed to them. These laws became so many, that most people lost sight as to what God really wanted. By that time, they may not have really cared when Jesus stood up to them.
Yes, we still have this same problem in today's society as well where man's religious laws over rides God's laws. We loose focus of God and what He wants. We loose focus of why we are worshiping God and Jesus. There are some religious leaders who use God and Jesus to control the congregation, and to increase their wealth.
At the same time, there are those leaders who have a heart for God, and what God wants. They are leading their people in the right direction, and practicing and doing what Jesus taught. Now the question becomes how to discern the ones who are following after God's heart, and those who are out for themselves.
The best way I know how to do this is to read your Bible. Get to know God's words well. Don't be afraid to question what your pastor is saying. Please, don't stand up in the middle of service, and confront Him then and there. The best way I believe to do this is to make notes in church. When you are at home, look up all the scriptures he mentioned. Do a study of what the pastor is saying. I personally would start with a Google search.
What I look for in this search is there other scripture to back up what was being spoken about. I believe the Bible will always back it self up. Where the idea came from in the first place. Did it come from a strong teaching in the Bible, several quotes scattered throughout the Bible, or from only one or two verses? Is it a repeating theme throughout the Bible?
I am very weary when someone claims the Bible says something, but really can not back it up. I'm also weary when someone says you have to be a scholar/theologian to really know what the Bible says. I beleive God created the Bible so everyone could read and understand His word. I do believe He can have multiple meanings in a verse. I do not believe that those meanings will be so well hidden that it would actually change the basic meaning of the verse when it is read.
This is also where we get many conflicts as to what the Bible actually says such as once saved always saved verses you can backslide and fall out of grace and salvation. This is where you really need to do your own research on what the Bible says with an open mind. Don't make the Bible say what you want it to say, but see what it is actually telling you. Once you know what the Bible says on that subject, and have it in your heart, no one can deceive you.
Sometimes it is hard to tell which religion or religious leader is following God. Learn from the past. Unfortunately some religions that may have been around for a very long time may be the ones that have lost focus, and use their religion to control the flock so to speak. Don't forget that some pastors start out with the intention of controlling and using the God's word to gain wealth.
The best way to get out from under the control of religion is to know God's words. If the religion or leader of your church practices God's words, does not have you practicing things the Bible tells you not to do, and does not have you doing things that are not even talked about in the Bile to get saved, repent, and living the life Jesus wants you to, then you know you are in the right place. If you find out that the church you are in does have you practicing things that are against God's word, then leave that church and/or religion, and find somewhere that does practice and preach God's word.