So in Part one of "Avoiding Religion" I discussed the dangers of religion for the Christian. In this post, I'll be focusing on the dangers of religion for the non-Christian.
Religion is a dangerous commodity. In fact, I believe our country's push toward religion is one of the primary reasons we're seeing a lack of interest in regards to God and the church.
The fact that we, as a nation, are pulling away from God is no surprise to me. We are a people desperate for something more, yet blind to everything that could save us. The more we disregard God's word and the very existence of God, the more willingly we accept and even welcome immorality... and certain destruction.
But what is the reason behind our country's obvious acceleration to sin? Is it something specific? Could it be that our country has been so saturated with religion in politics in the past that people are just tired of it? Maybe our generation is hit hard by the hypocrisy and unrealistic impressions of morality in the church. Personally, I believe the morality children are being taught in our schools and homes is largely to blame. They are taught good and evil. Smiling, sharing, loving...? Good. Lying, cheating, and stealing...? Bad. But based on what? Are they given something to back up the reasoning and purpose behind such claims?
It's no wonder we have so many problems with our youth today. There is nothing to stop them from creating morality for themselves. Nothing to hold them back when they decide they think something's right or wrong. Notice, THEY choose. (Proverbs 14:12 - There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death.)
There is another reason that I believe has a great affect on our culture's decline in true Christianity. More often than not, those who claim "Christianity" do not really hold fast to the true meaning of the word. Many call themselves Christians, but have no clue what that really means. Or worse, the Christian knows, but looks no different from the world. So this leaves onlookers confused. What's so great about Christianity if it looks no different than everything else? What's the point?
So how does the overuse of religion fit into all of this? It's simple. Not unlike religion for the Christian, it takes the focus off of the Truth and instead, onto self; what man can do to be good enough, to fit in, to measure up, or to feel positive about himself.
When doing a good deed for others, the motive becomes self gratifying if it isn't done in the name of Christ. "Meditating" to feel spiritual only opens the doors of the mind to any evil Satan cares to slip in. Going to church just to please "The Man Upstairs" in case our good deeds weren't enough to weigh out the bad this week, means nothing when we are commanded obedience over sacrifice.
We live in a world built of religious people who have good intentions but remain uninformed. In seeking to be enlightened they have lingered in the dark. In seeking to be religious, they have become a generation who have advanced willingly towards their silent killer, and so continue to be pervaded with it's deadly poison.
Standing on it's own, religion means nothing, at least in the sense that it gains nothing. When we let ourselves get distracted with trying to be spiritual enough or appear religious enough to look good, please society, or make ourselves feel better, we miss the point. And when our deeds are not done in the name of Jesus Christ, we may as well have not done them at all. It makes us feel good about ourselves for doing these good deeds and thus only pull farther away from God in trying to measure up to the standard we've set. And I'm afraid it's a pretty low bar, people.
We are witnessing a country who completely rejects God by using religion as a mask to cover the reality of certain destruction. The irony is painful, and the day of destruction is so much closer than they may think.
Monday, February 8, 2016
Avoiding Religion: To the Christian
There once was an enthusiastic woman. She had a husband to whom she was completely devoted. In fact, she promised herself she would remain dedicated to him forever. In doing so, she also decided she needed to prove herself worthy to him so he could truly love her.
So this woman decided to learn about her man. She wanted to understand every aspect of him, ways she could better help him, when this devotion started, and in what ways could she encourage it to continue. But the woman didn't just stop there. She traveled to all the places he'd been, walked where he walked, and even talked like he talked. She met his friends... and his enemies. She learned about him in every way imaginable. She acted in a way that she knew would please him. She knew she had to be the perfect wife.
While on her expedition, anyone who met this woman was impressed. The ladies wished they were more dedicated like her. Men wished they had wives who loved them as much as this woman seemed to love her husband.
"Such a devout wife", they would remark. "This is a woman of character. She is not afraid to work hard to get what she wants. She sets out to find what she's looking for and is successful. And all of this to please her husband..."
It made her feel good inside to hear these things. It pushed her to try harder and work harder to be the one her husband would accept. In fact, as she did so, she had this hope in the back of her mind that this would be a way to prove the validity of her love to this man.
Then, the day came.... Her journey had reached it's end. The people she met were gone, the places she had visited were but a distant memory, and her aspirations and dreams were fulfilled. But would it be enough to impress the man she loved?
She went to the door of her house, and crept inside. Her eyes traveled across the room, from the empty living space, to the messy kitchen, and the barren dining area. Suddenly, an elderly man entered the front room. The woman jumped back with a start.
"Who are you?" She demanded, a little taken off guard. "I'm looking for my husband."
The deep-set wrinkles in the man's brow increased as he looked at her closely. He took a step forward.
"I", he stated slowly, "I am your husband." The woman stared in disbelief.
"That can't be!" she countered. "I know my husband. Better than his own mother! I've studied him and everything about him. You sir, cannot be that man." However, he continued to look at her sadly.
"You don't recognize me because you haven't spent any time with me. While I was taking a morning walk in the neighborhood, you were off touring my childhood home. The days I came home from a rough day at work with cold dinner as my only consolation, you were reading documents at the library about the day I was born. As I sat alone by the fireplace at night with a cup of green tea, you were having dinner with those I haven't seen in over 20 years. While my life forged on, as does any other, you were not there because you were too busy trying to learn about me and earn my respect. But I was right here the whole time. Waiting for the chance to learn and grow along side you. Waiting to care for you. Waiting to love you. Baby, you don't recognize me because you don't even know me."
At this point, tears were streaming his bride's face. She had made a mistake that cost her the relationship she had devoted her whole life to maintain. In trying to earn the right to be cared for, she had lost her one chance to experience a relationship that would have melted any fear of rejection. A love given that could not be gained through something she did, nor ever could be. In trying to earn a love her spouse gave freely, it had all been lost...
I don't consider myself a religious person. Actually, I aim to avoid "religion" as much as possible. Classifying myself as one who is "Religious" immediately puts all religions at the same level. Buddhism, Mormonism, Christianity, Hinduism... All are forced into a crowded and invisible coffin of good works and unobtainable perfection. To be religious is to be piously moral, saintly, or devout. What's wrong with these things, you ask? Well, everything... when done in our own strength. When we are trying to be "religious", we are trying to attain something that was already achieved; the saving grace of Jesus Christ. In the story above, we saw a woman who went to great lengths to learn all she could about her husband. She worked hard. She was unrelenting. She was determined. Yet she forgot the most important thing,.. spending time with her husband. You know... Relationship.
Being religious denotes self. It brings glory to the good behavior and holy living of a working saint, rather than bringing to the forefront the actions of an awesome Creator.
Works are not the coupons we parade during our Christian walk in order to gain the good deals of God's blessings. He loves His people. Nothing we can do or say will ever change that. Instead of using our works to help self, we offer them to God as a meager sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. Our good works should proclaim the goodness of God and showcase His power to save those who are utterly unable to do so themselves.
You see, with the right approach to our Christian walk, we will lose all aspects of a simple religion, at least in the way the world would see it. As we draw closer to God, we find instead a relationship with a Father who loves us. With this perspective in our hearts and the experience of the grace of God in our lives, the idea and practice of Christianity as a "religion" really couldn't be further from the truth.
Jeremiah 33:3 - Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
Revelation 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
James 4:8 - Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded.