What Jesus said about religion
Religion gets blamed for a lot of things but it has also been the inspiration for a lot of good things. So is religion good or bad?
Jesus thought that many 'religious' people were hypocrites
He often criticized the religious leaders of his time for the way they used their religion to impress people and gain wealth and power. Jesus was very keen for us to understand that simply following the rules of a religion is not what spirituality is about.
Jesus had some pretty fierce things to say about some of the religious leaders of his time. He described them as whitewashed graves - lovely to look at on the outside but full of old bones and rotten on the inside. Sadly this is still true for some religious leaders today - even sometimes Christian ones. Jesus would have a few things to say to them as well, I'm sure.
Jesus was religious himself
Jesus took a full part in his own jewish religion. He went to the Synagogue, spent lots of time at the Temple, and celebrated the Passover.
He was not against ritual or rules. However he really didn't like it when people elevated the rituals above the purpose of the ritual.
He taught that it was not what a person did that made him bad it was what a person thought. He once told a story about two men who went to pray, the first was religious and didn't mind telling God how good he was, the second was not good but was willing to admit this before God. It was the bad man who confessed who was put right with God not the good man who thought he was good.
Spirituality is about your relationship with God not how you perform a ceremony
Jesus taught that trying to use a ceremony for some kind of spiritual favour was wrong. Prayers are not answered because they are said a lot and God does not respond just because you give a gift. After all, if everything belongs to God anyway what could we give that God would want?
Instead we get close to God through honesty. We open our heart to God, tell God we are sorry because we know we get things wrong and then we build a relationship with God.