If I were to ask you if you're a religious person, what would you say?
Really. Stop reading and think about it for a second.
I know my answer six months ago would be different than it was when I was growing up. And it's different today than it was six months ago.
It might be my imagination (I have a strong one), but it seems that religion has become (world-wise) little more than a bad word. Even in Christian circles, an overly religious person is often equated with a zealot, a Pharisee. Can you truly be overly-religious?
Religion is more commonly being seen as "the act of being a belief nut". Religious folks are said to be fanatical; singly focused on righteous acts. The religion of Christianity has recently been compared (many times I might add) to Muslim extremists.
Scrolling through my Facebook this past week has confirmed my belief that religion is widely becoming tabu. Even Christians are aligning themselves with this frame of mind. Here are some popular thoughts.
You don't need religion to have morals. If you determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.-Anonymous
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. -Dalai Lama
Jesus is my Savior, not my religion -Unknown
Religion is the cause of all the problems in the world. It's what separates people. -Gwyneth Paltrow.
I have to admit six months ago had I been asked whether or not I am a religious person, I would have hesitated before answering, especially if the question had asked for a simple yes or no answer.
By answering yes, I feel that an astoundingly increasing number of people would mark me as a tyrant; an unloving and intolerant. A "yes" answering person is often viewed as one who goes about (can I say) Heaven-bent on doing the right things so that they might think they're dandy and God might think they're dandy along with the less-than-righteous rest of the world. Religion has been redefined as the act of acting.
That kind of religion exists. It's called empty religion and it's widely practiced. I'm guilty of it. I'm sure we all are.
But true religion? That exists too.
…..pure and genuine religion
Religion, in its rightful practice, is the belief in, and worship of God.
It's about our relationship with a loving father who we know always "gets it right". We know we're not dandy people, but rather fallen ones in need. We believe this to be true. Out of that belief, we worship. Part of that worship is our obedience to Him; our attempt to do what He says we should do.
Here's the other thing that bugs me. It's almost as if we've tried to make Jesus the very opposite of religious. Jesus did get all over the religious leaders (We like to use that), but not because they were living worshipfully by faith. They were interested in puffing up themselves instead of God. They were self-righteous. We find their example detestable. I'm glad we do. Their story is a great reminder not to fall into that trap we find ourselves tip-toeing around and sometimes caught in.
Was Jesus religious?
He trusted His Father.
His life was one of constant worship.
I'd say He was.
He participated in Jewish traditional feasts and the Passover. He knew the scripture.
He told us "Don't think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Matthew 5:17
These things He did,.... these things we do.... are/should be more than mere acts. With the right heart these practices are part of worship. These things are part of our religion.
Are our religious actions always practiced with a proper heart, in the right frame of mind? Certainly not. But that shouldn't mean that we shy away from organized religion, the public sharing of our faith and all appearance of religion.
We just have to ask continually ask our self these questions.
Is my religion pure and genuine?
Is the world corrupting our view of what is right and good by trying to convince us that religion isn't what Jesus wants?
We have been told to watch out for such things-
Keep oneself from being polluted by the world
Is my religion all about Jesus?
Should it be about anything else?
If I find times that it's not, should I give up trying to make my religion all about Him?
I count myself as one who strives to be religious. I want my life (be it popular or the modern crime) to be a life led by faith and heart-felt worship. I'll mess up a million times; more the reason to trust in the One who died for my Sin…..
more the reason to sing, and pray and tell the world.
That's my religion.