If Jesus came to start a religion, he did a rotten job. Faith without religion needs to be understood, by looking at Jesus work.
Jesus did not tell us how often to go to church, how much to read the Bible, or how much when or where to pray. He did not define how the church meeting should be arranged or what should go in it. Jesus did not say what educational level Bible teachers should have.
So was Jesus just disorganized and not ready? Jesus of the Gospels is not disorganized, and he did not die unexpectedly early. When he died, he said, “It is finished.” Unless we say Jesus was a mess, we have to say that he did not seek to establish a religion. In fact, he tore away at the highly organized and measured Pharisees.
Jesus Did Clarify Some Things – Religious Gaps Still So Big
Jesus said we need to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves. That leaves a lot of room for variance. Jesus gave us the Lords’ Prayer, but when we see him pray, he never uses or touches it. He did not give us the Apostles Creed.
Jesus did not even give us a 1,2, 3 list for what it takes to get into heaven. He further does not define who will be first in heaven. I do not have enough from Jesus to say if my wife or myself will be farther ahead in the line up in heaven. She prays constantly, and I read the Bible faithfully. Does the Bible says which of us is ahead?
The Bible does not even give a command to be baptized with water. It does command Christians to baptize new believers with water. However, the Bible does not say how much water despite what some teach.
He says to do the Lord’s Supper, but does not define what or how much to eat or drink. Jesus only requires we do this in remembrance of Him dying on the cross. Apparently, that is a main point and not what food and drink we have.
Jesus did say. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
That is very clear until we ask, “How do we know if we believe, or if my friend believes” Jesus says you will know them “by their fruit”. That is not a very precise definition, though it is a huge help. Good thing he is the one who decides finally,
So Why Did Jesus Come? For Faith Without Religion?
We see many cases of how Jesus interacted with people and what he liked and hated. I think he gave us enough to know if we want to follow him and know him. He asked us to believe. I find he gives us enough to decide to believe. He leaves a lot of doubt on specifically what to do after that and does not apologize. I am not saying everything that is religious is bad, but Jesus and the epistles certainly lay out a broad path for faith. Resulting multitudes of denominations are testimony to how broad.
Jesus also gave a lot of data on what is the Kingdom of God. He seems to be inviting us into that kingdom as he tells us so much about what the kingdom is like.
At minimum, Jesus focus is not on Sunday worship and daily Bible reading, or he would have said. He is looking for those who want to be with him and be part of his kingdom. He is not looking primarily for religious practice. Jesus’s Father is looking for us to live lives in faith which surely includes Bible reading, prayer, fellowship and witnessing. So my statement of faith without religion is over the top, but I think we all need to be aware and seek faith over practice.