Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Much can be said about the topic of religion, through the ages it has formed a critical aspect of human thought, driven action, formed the basis for war, and was integral in many altruistic endeavors.
If this is all religion will ever be then it has failed.
When I hear someone reflect on how another is “religious”, it speaks volumes of their own practice. Typically, many who don’t have a personal knowledge of God see every construct that recognizes some form of ceremony, incense burning, chanting, or symbolic act of reverence to a higher being as a religious observance. I don’t judge people who are in this type of position, I only recognize their lack of knowledge as a basis for how I’m going to share the gospel. If I don’t take into consideration others position of understanding, then I neglect the way they might receive the Truth of God.
Christians are those who do not practice “religion”, they practice relationship. Knowing who God is, is the first step—submitting to who God is, would be the next.
Once a person recognizes Jesus as God, they’ve taken into consideration the magnitude of His love He showed on the cross of Calvary. Dying for a cause has been done by many, dying as God incarnate to redeem mankind from sin has only been done one time in history.
Christians have more than just ceremony, they have a message born out of the greatest act of love in history. The gospel is not a call to religion, it is a call to knowing God, walking with God, and understanding what it means to obey. Christianity is the call to humility and to walk with a contrite spirit before a just and holy God.
Why am I making a declaration of what true Christianity is?—Because if we try to fuse true christianity into a religious observance, we have lost the purpose of the call.
Romans 10:13 “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Think of it this way….your standing on a ridge, on the other side of a great divide and at the bottom of this divide is a lake of fire. On the other side of the divide is a glorious city and in the midst of the city is a throne that shines and illumines the city and all who dwell therein.
The throne is not barren for He who sits on the throne is the Ancient of Days. The King of kings illumines this land and His people rest secure in His power and authority.
You hear a call, echo across the divide, beckoning you to come and you have a choice in how you respond. If you call back, the way to the other side will be revealed, but you have to leave everything behind. Any position you’ve gained, any goods you’ve acquired, any path you’ve forged will be relinquished if you take this journey.
1 Corinthians 1:24 “But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
The way to the other side has been forged by the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ.
For those who hear the call and respond, the way of salvation is provided. Once you begin to walk the bridge, once you take that first step, you find that you are not alone. The Spirit of God envelops all who take this journey, filling them with His presence and guiding them on their way. Each step closer brings knowledge of the King, each trusting step reveals the character and compassion of Christ.
Once you realize you’ve found the way to eternal life, you turn and call others to join you. The fear of taking that first step takes courage, faith, and a resolve that there exists something far better than you’ve ever known.
Religion is not the response to God’s call, religion is man’s attempt at making heaven on earth with man sitting on the throne. Religion attempts to forge a new path to eternal life, one that doesn’t require Jesus to lead the way. It brings ceremony and religious vestments to wear, giving the appearance of holiness.
Colossians 3:8-10 “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,”
Religion attempts to hold onto the old while practicing observances that imply there is something new. It is a facade, a false front that gives its people a way to maintain their pride while positioning them in such a way that presents piety.
Those who practice “religion” have remained in a land that is dying and only fool themselves into thinking they are changing it for the better.
This world has an expiration date, it has been corrupted by sin and rebellion and its judgement will be final.
Psalm 96:13 “Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.”
The Old and the New
The standard God uses against the world is righteousness and for those who are truly His, faithfulness.
Righteousness is obedience; It is founded in a recognition of God’s divine law with an acceptance of our inability to match up to God’s standard. For those who see themselves before this standard, they acknowledge their sin and know they need a Savior. Jesus is the only One who met the requirements of the law and thus redeemed a people from its cruel confines of judgement without mercy.
When a person turns to God, His righteousness in imparted to them. His perfection is administered to the one who was broken and in need of forgiveness…God’s compassion is revealed.
Ephesians 1:7-10 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And He has made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together in Christ.”
The old way is the way of death. Sin is a breaking of God’s moral law and all have been found guilty. The trespasses of mankind are more than can be counted, there will be no justification when the time of judgement has come. Religion seeks to administer righteousness without humility, thereby leaving all who practice it in a position of judgement.
The new way is the path to life. Forgiveness of sin does not come cheap, Jesus came from a position of glory and took upon Himself our shame. For those who accept His love and mercy, they will find themselves under His care and anointing.
Religion attempts to justify sin by practicing ceremony.
Can you see how offensive religion is before a God who sacrificed His Son that we might be saved?
Religion tries to forge its own path to life and for those who have been duped into thinking it is true, they will find its way leads to death. There are many religions in the world, many that might suit your fancy, that fits your lifestyle and isn’t too oppressive, not bringing too much demand. If religion is what you want, there is not shortage of suitors.
If you want eternal life….forsake religion and call out to Jesus, He is the One who was calling all along, He is the One who forged the bridge over the great divide, and He is the One who will stand as judge over you…showing mercy; Mercy that was purchased by His own blood and offered to all who will believe.