Jeff Bethke’s poem and YouTube video sensation (over 19 million hits) should be seen as an inspiration to all who consider themselves religious faithful. Bethke is a 22 year-old, viral-video star working to make Jesus better known to a generation who consider themselves spiritual but not religious.
His video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus,” is produced in a slick, clean style that resembles a hip Nike ad. In it, Bethke speaks directly to his audience in rhythmic prose about the hypocrisy of the church (which he admits to being a part of) and its image of self-importance and righteousness that Christ came to abolish.
I spent my whole life building this façade of neatness, But now that I know Jesus I boast in my weakness.
Because if grace is water, then the church should be an ocean. It’s not a museum for good people. It’s a hospital for the broken.
Which means I don’t have to hide my failure. I don’t have to hide my sin. Because it doesn’t depend on me. It depends on Him.
Bethke says that his reason for writing the poem and posting it online was to help separate the joy of the heavenly Father from image of earthy religion. “To help people get the blurriness out of their eyes so they could see Jesus for who he really is.” While the poem seems to be a complete argument against church entirely, Bethke does attend church regularly in his native Seattle and even strives to practice what it preaches. Mars Hill (the church he attends) could be considered one of the mega churches he chastises in his video but the internet-savvy, rock music displaying church’s audience clearly matches Bethke’s demographic approach.
Regardless of your age, this video is a great reminder that we focus too much on the rules of religion and not on what Christ stood for. Bethke’s poem reminds that God and religion are separate from the fallible creations of man’s churches. As Bethke says, “See one’s the work of God and one is man’s invention. See one is the cure but the other the infection. See because religion says do, Jesus says done.”
Check out “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus” and Bethke’s other videos on his YouTube channel.
 Time magazine, March 5, 2012, “The Book of YouTube,” page 60
 Time magazine, March 5, 2012, “The Book of YouTube,” page 61