The character Sakamoto from the recent anime Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto represents perfection, something without flaw or error. Being extremely handsome, intelligent, and athletic, our protagonist has all the girls falling for him and drives the men to jealousy. He has it made for himself and always aims to achieve his best. But isn’t this how religion tries to dress-up Jesus Christ, that He only accepts perfection?
Fancy brown suits, prim-pressed ties, and shiny black shoes are most people’s idea of Christians when they see us in churches. They see Sakamoto greeters holding service programs and false smiles, Sakamoto worship leaders that insist that God only wants to hear praises from hymnals, and Sakamoto preachers that teach fire and brimstone from their vile tongues. Most importantly, non-believers see Christians claiming perfection and religion as their identity, both inside and outside of church. As you can tell, religious people ruin everything.
Even more disturbing is that some Christians tell culture that God will only love you if you decide to “clean up yourself” and stay away from sin. People strive out of their own strength to get rid of their wrongdoing and always miss the Sakamoto-standard no matter what they do. Since perfection is impossible, people settle with pretending. Christians who are going through divorces, beat their children at home, and look at pornography are the ones who act like they have it all together and cover themselves with Sakamoto makeup. These are the modern day Pharisees that speak words of hate against those who do not meet perfection. This is the result of religion, that hate, hopelessness, and shame consumes mankind. Again, religious people ruin everything.
Perfection is one of the greatest misconceptions in human history because sin exists in our world. Sin, translated into English, literally means “to miss the mark” from God’s perfect law and we see this everyday. Have you ever been taught how to lie to your parents, steal from your friend, or scream at your siblings? It’s apparent that sin is a generational curse that has been present since the beginning of time and is something that every person makes of his or her own free will.
Because part of God’s character is righteousness and holiness, He must punish mankind for their sin and it is what we deserve. Once we make that first wrong choice, we are signing ourselves into a contract that bids us to Hell for all of eternity. The Bible says that one offense against God is enough to warrant this future, so no amount of good works can ever cancel that out. Religion, however, denies this truth and says that only good works can bring us in right standing with God; that’s why the toil is called “a striving for the wind”.
Jesus Christ, however, never came to establish religion, but instead freedom from religion. God knew that people weren’t perfect (Romans 3:23) and that they could never accomplish Sakamoto-level perfection on their own. That’s why He sent His son Jesus who was sinless to become the sacrifice that would allow people to be perfect through Him. He experienced the most brutal torture method of the ancient world and went to Hell for three days, bearing our sin and shame, because He loved us so much.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will someone die for a righteousness man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8, NIV)
Now tell me, why would a perfect God would die for imperfect people? The fact that God loves His creation despite their flaws contradicts the definition of religion, and makes Jesus Christ something even greater. The Lord sent His sent down to Earth not to establish religion, but instead to make relationships with His creation that are founded on love. Since you are rejecting this truth, you are selfishly seeking after yourselves instead of grace.
The Law is good as the Bible says, but to place such an emphasis on it rather than the one who has already fulfilled the Law forces people to labor good works with no purpose. You are breeding dissension and hatred towards the God that I have surrendered my entire life to and it is an embarrassment to see you showing such disrespect to the creator of the universe.
Don’t ever impose your hopeless living, standards and hatred on non-believers who deep inside need the hope that Jesus Christ came to share. You are just as broken as they are and have no right to judge their lifestyle for any reason. It’s apparent that nearly all of Jesus’s rebukes were against the religious people of the temple and you are following closely after their footsteps (Matthew 23). Instead of condemning the sinners and picketing signs saying “God hates FAGS” Jesus had dinner with them and taught them about the Gospel. Repent before God, turn back towards the Cross, and walk in step with the Holy Spirit. It’s never too late and you still have the chance to seek after Christ, bearing His love and selflessness.
Atheists, seekers, non-believers, and others:
If you have ever been hurt by the church body in any way, shape, or form, let me take the blame for what others have done against you and give my most sincere apology. Those who claimed Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior have no business acting like jerks towards you and I hate that you were given such a terrible picture of who my God is. As a person who was made by God, you deserve much more respect and honor than what has been given to you from religious people.
Let me say as an ex-atheist that I myself was wounded badly by the church. My father, a church pastor for my entire life, proclaimed Jesus Christ as His savior, yet had sex with multiple women on the side of his marriage. He had consistent fits of anger and rage inside of my household, and never treated me with grace. I went through a lot of crap from religious people while growing up, so I understand your hatred towards Christians.
However, don’t ever forget the genuine followers of Jesus that care about you as a person and your soul instead of just your lifestyle. The Gospel is an offensive message, so do not be surprised if you are challenged by it’s core themes. Understand that real people who are sold out to Jesus will explain Christianity out of love, but that requires to discuss the truth as well.
As ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we are called to escape the religious slavery that held us captive before we became believers and realize that He already fulfilled the requirements of the Law by paying the debt with His blood on the Cross. This means that we have confidence for heaven and know that God has a place prepared for us at the throne room.
However, we are never to use our freedom as an excuse to sin as Paul discusses in Romans 6. If we have truly accepted Jesus’s grace that He shed for us, our actions will have a dramatic change based on love and not the law. We are called to paint a picture for those around us about our new hearts that have been given to us through Jesus Christ and living a Hellish lifestyle will never accomplish that. Let’s take the Great Commission seriously and live by the standards that our God has set for us, winning people over through the Gospel!
Although society views Christianity as a set of rules and regulations, the truth is that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Sakamoto-standards that we could not do on our own because He loved us so much. Religion will never save us from our own choice to sin and religious people will always ruin everything, but the Cross will give grace to our mistakes. There is hope found in Jesus Christ and we can live in victory because of that!