The main theme in the reading, as expressed by the author, is love. Bethke (2013) wonders why Christians love religion more than its founder. Bethke (2014) is additionally perplexed by the idea of people being attracted to religion and forgetting about Jesus Christ. He explains that love is lost between the believers and the Supreme Being, Jesus Christ. Christians should love Jesus more because He is the one who lay the foundation of the church through His disciples, who later became saints after He ascended to heaven.
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Christianity is known as a religion of peace and harmony. However, Bethke (2014) contradicts this assertion and states that enmity is now a prevalent church occurrence. Many Christians and their churches are creating many enemies as opposed to friends. Bethke (2014) says that Jesus taught Christians to love their neighbor as they love themselves. He also spoke of not killing each other as it is a sin before the eyes of God. It is, therefore, baffling to see Christians murder each other and cultivate the vice of enmity.
The proper Christian response to the ethical issue is through reversing their dedication and worship of religion to Jesus Christ. Christians should find a way of returning to Christ and rekindling the love and relationship that have existed for centuries. The believers should also introduce teachings of love in the church and encourage people to understand that Christ is greater than religion. They should comprehend that there are several religions in the world, which praise and worship one God. They also need to learn to separate matters of the heart from religion as most want to associate with religion for material but not spiritual gain. Christians consider themselves more religious and righteous than other people because they belong to a particular type of class or group of Christians. This notion, therefore, makes them develop hate for others from a different religion hence creating enmity. Jesus’ call to Christians was to make more followers. Christians are expected to spread the gospel so that Jesus can have a considerable following, contrary to what the Christians are doing (Bethke, 2013). Christians are condemning the acts of non-believers whom they believe are sinners and will go to hell.
The Choice after the Fact
The author explains the theme of choice by alluding that Christians have the singular choice of choosing God or the devil. They consider non-believers and those who believe in other gods as the devil’s agent as they believe that people should only worship God and no one else. The speaker cannot force the audience to go the speaker’s way but should explain the reasons for the following. They should read the Bible and make independent decisions on which way to follow.
An ethical situation of this theme is all about Christians making the right choices in life after hearing the word of God. Most Christians read the Bible to understand God, Jesus Christ, and the entire religion. The Christians attend seminars for spiritual nourishment. It is the Christians’ responsibility not to choose the facts from the speech and not to change the actions accordingly. Bethke (2014) insists on using examples of Jesus is greater than religion but leaving the decision of deciding in the hands of believers.
The proper response to this theme by Christians would be to accept God’s word and do what the Bible dictates people to do. Believers should also go a mile further to spread the gospel to non-believers to join the ministry. Christians should act as role models to those who do not believe in the word of God so that the pagans may learn something from them. They also ought to stand up and refuse to be misled by the preachers when they feel the information being given is not correct. Believers also need to do as their hearts and feelings dictate. It is only prudent for the person to seek counsel on how to become a believer willingly.
Distinguishing between Jesus and Religion
The theme of distinguishing Jesus and religion seems to be the general summary of Jefferson’s work. It explains the issue of apparent differences between Jesus Christ and religion. Separating Jesus from religion is something that should not be attainable. This shows how Christians involve themselves in investigating who Jesus Christ is and His life without considering Christianity’s rules or what Jesus expects them to do. The author challenged Americans that Jesus is not Americanized the way they may think but someone else (Bethke, 2014). The theme also tries to question believers as to whether they follow the person Jesus or the idea behind Christ.
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Christians study Jesus Christ as an individual but do not follow His teachings. Christians do not portray Jesus in religion the way He is displayed in the gospel and the Bible. They change Jesus from the one well known to suit their religious definitions. The ethical response to this theme from Christians should be that they focus more on others’ needs by showing the acts of righteousness. The Bible should be taken as the rule book and not the current love letter. People cannot claim to be following Jesus, and they are hypocritical, legalistic, and judgmental when the person we are claiming to follow is forgiving, loving, and authentic. Christians’ response should always be to emulate Jesus Christ’s deeds.
Bethke, J. (2013). Jesus > religion: Why he is so much better than trying harder, doing more, and being good enough. Thomas Nelson.
Bethke, J. (2014). Jesus is greater than religion: Student Bible study. Thomas Nelson.