Take That Christian Camp Counselor, Or Jesus’ One Paragraph Rule Book

If you based ever based what you think the Christian life is off of what your scheduled to do on weekend religious retreats or in youth group summer camps, you’d think it consists of:

  • daily Scripture reading
  • prayer/time spent worshiping the Lord each day
  • fellowship with other Christians
  • obeying God’s commands (rules)

And I don’t disagree. I think many churches and pastors would agree this is a fine list of what the Christian life is.

It’s no secret that religious people have created far more laws than the founders of the religion ever set up. Jesus didn’t set up a lot of rules or give many commandments to be followed –  he barely made any such things (which ones he did mandate are still are being debated).

Jesus didn’t instruct people to pray this much, or read this much this often. Not once did Jesus say you must have study Scripture daily. Your pastor would likely say yes, of course you should be doing this (for good reason), but Jesus didn’t make that law – plain and simple. Jesus didn’t instruct his disciples to do daily devotions. Try throwing that in your camp counselor’s face next summer!

This is one instance where what Jesus didn‘t do actually makes a statement to me – not establishing a law or criteria of some kind does not seem accidental, an “oops forgot to do that while on earth.”

Did Jesus even set up the Christian life as we know it today? This is veering the post off in a different direction and I’ll contain it – but how did our version of the Christian life get so tame? Why can you do almost all of the Christian life from your favorite armchair next to the fireplace?

The greater point here is that there is a reason these laws were never established. Laws have little power to penetrate our hearts, which are often calloused and cold-walled. Jesus could have easily said “you should study Scripture every day, and of course you should pray and worship that much too,” and even though these are really great recommendations, turning them into laws would do nothing for the ability of these acts to move in us and cause/continue transformation.

Ultimately, there is no judgment here. Jesus didn’t want us holding to these kind of lines. What he wants is our hearts, and he gets more of our hearts when they’re not fenced in or worried about breaking rules.

Well, have I gone off the deep end yet again? Would agree Jesus didn’t purposefully set up those kind of laws (or many other laws for that matter)?

(note: I’m not advocating any ‘anything goes is cool with Jesus’ kind of morality, I really hope you can tell. But inevitably someone would see that when I say Jesus didn’t make many rules).

Jesus didn’t teach his disciples to do daily devotions.
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11 Responses to Take That Christian Camp Counselor, Or Jesus’ One Paragraph Rule Book

  1. I think Jesus’ most glaring words were put toward the religious leaders who thought they had it all together and kept all the rules. He repeatedly said, “Dudes, you are sick. You are missing it. You are snakes.” He never relegated the life that follows Him into a set list of dos and don’ts. I don’t think you have gone off the deep end at all. If others feel you have I will hold the rope. 🙂

  2. Su says:

    Ah, summer camp. Jesus didn’t order knee-length shorts and an extra dose of mosquitoes, either.

  3. David says:

    Jesus said:

    John 5:19 “Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

    John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

    That means that all the things that Jesus did are on the list and more! He did pray, apparently for hours early in the morning. He did study the Scriptures for almost 30 years before he launched out into ministry. He had quiet times, and fellowship times. He helped feed the poor, heal the sick, preach the Gospel, and attended parties, weddings and other gatherings. That was in the 3 years we know the most about.

    The very idea that we can have a formula is just more dead religion. Sure, when in doubt, these are good things to do. But unless they are producing a deeper relationship with Jesus, they are an utter waste of time. The Pharisees did the same and you know what Jesus had to say about them. And they added tithing and and a few other regular rituals to the mix.

    We must know God, and hear his voice! If we don’t, we are just religious machines trying to be good, which is an unobtainable goal. We need to know which verse to act upon now! The Greek word for this is “rhema.” If I am sitting there reading my Bible and ignoring my wife, or a poor person at the door, how can I justify that?

    Our lives are not our own, and without direct input from Jesus, we will fail – guaranteed. Even with direct input, the Christian life is challenging.

    • In college I worked for a homeless shelter and I remember one slow night reading a book that was all about loving the poor, and I realized it was just dead religion for me – as I was right there and not doing anything.

      I think more people need to know that while reading Scripture, tithing, etc are all good things they can also be empty rituals

  4. Chris says:

    Hey Charlie,

    I wish sometime you’d expand upon what you mean here, regarding your experience at the homeless shelter and what exactly it was that felt like dead religion. I don’t see helping the poor as religion but rather an outworking, or by-product of faith, so I’m a bit confused as to what you mean here.

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