1. Religion preoccupies man until he finds the Kingdom.
2. Religion is what man does until he finds the Kingdom.
3. Religion prepares man to leave earth; the Kingdom empowers man to dominate earth.
4. Religion focuses on Heaven; the Kingdom focuses on earth.
5. Religion is reaching up to God; the kingdom is God coming down to man.
6. Religion wants to escape earth; the Kingdom impacts, influences and changes earth.
7. Religion seeks to take earth to Heaven; the Kingdom seeks to bring Heaven to earth.
Perhaps this is why Jesus addressed the religious leaders of His day so strongly when He said:
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men, for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows, houses and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:13-15)
Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying 2) Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread. 3) He answered and said to them, "Why do you transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?" (Matthew 23:1-3)
--then he need not honor his father or mother. Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. (Matthew 15:6)
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:20)
...Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the Kingdom of God before you." (Matthew 21:31b)
It seems clear from these words that religion is one of the greatest obstacles to the Kingdom. Maybe we should take a serious look at the power of religion over our lives, culture and society.