Many in Christianity treat the institutional church as some kind of sacred obligation. They see church attendance and its financial support as a requirement in order to please God and gain His blessing. Viewing the church as an obligation in this fashion leads many to a ticket punching approach to their spirituality. There is a list of duties which a good Christian must fulfill, so the practice of Christianity very easily morphs into the practice of certain prescribed activities on a set schedule. It is the old ritualistic approach to religion which has marked almost all attempts by men to relate to and appease their various deities.
When the practice of what Jesus taught is thus reduced to a schedule of religious practices, it retains nothing new and exciting as compared with Judaism or any other religion that preceded it. When those prescribed activities are overseen and controlled by a religious leadership group, then the similarity to all things religious from the beginning of human history is even more stark.
When people pay homage to the church, it becomes their real god. When they embrace its doctrine, it becomes the true gospel. Placing faith in such human endeavor is the antithesis of faith in God. It attests to self reliance and relies exclusively on human wisdom, despite any reference to a divine text which must be fallibly discerned.
If Jesus was God’s step-out, the author of God’s ultimate plan, then such similarities to age old religious thought and practice is troubling. Why didn’t mankind experience a real, earth shattering transformation of religious thought as a consequence of what Jesus taught and practiced? It’s hard to conceive of how mankind can be transformed in behavior without a radically new way of thinking about God and His purpose for humanity. Mankind can continue to think religiously like the Old Testament Israelites did and wonder why there is no real resultant change in the world, or they can consider something dramatically new and different in their understanding of what Jesus was all about.