Monday, November 20, 2006

Religion

James 1:26-27 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I decided a while ago to continually read the gospels, along with other Bible readings in the old and new testaments. I wanted to try to stay connected with the radical simplicity of Jesus' teaching on a daily basis.

One thing I've noticed is how Jesus was always in so much trouble with the religious people. Now you would think those would be the people who would love him. After all, he was so good. He loved the Word of God and brought it to life when he spoke. He had such compassion for people. But it was those who were the opposite of religious who flocked after him--those called sinners--the publicans, tax collectors, women with checkered pasts.

I noticed the same thing in the book of Acts. The upset and turmoil of the early church was with religious people. What's with that?

"Religion" is equated with law keeping--rule keeping. People who loved that kind of religion hated Jesus because he broke the rules to fulfill the law. My Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary has several definitions for religion, but one of them is "scrupulous conformity." Jesus was a non-conformist.

Religion, many will argue, is the source of so much of the world's war and suffering. And they are right.

I want to be like Jesus but it is a struggle to be. I am a child of this world and still so wayward of heart. His words; his teachings are still revolutionary and counter culture and they are full of peace, love and gentleness for the struggling and lost. They still have the potential to make religious people angry.

Prayer: Lord, I want to be your disciple, a student of your ways and words. I want to know you and understand your heart. I don't want to be "religious" but I know that sometimes I am. Please forgive me for that. I repent of religion, and long for your holiness and heart of love.

James 2:12-13 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

1 comment:

Johnny Cash said...

Good post Belinda. For me, what the problem boils down to is this: There are only two religions, the true and the false. If Christianity only represented the true, we'd all be in the clear. However, too many use the name of Jesus simply to further their own selfish ends. Many who do not know Him are repelled by this and miss out on the opportunity to have a loving relationship with our Creator. This I know as well: Satan loves religion and so-called 'religious people' to do his bidding. Religion is the Devil's biggest weapon in his arsenal, a fact we should not overlook. Hope to see those links sometime soon. JC