Whenever I think about religion, my brain fills up with an endless list of denominations: Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Latter Day Saints, Seventh Day Adventist, Judaism, Islam, Scientology, and the list goes on to infinity. My mind instantly becomes jam-packed with a conglomeration of religious doctrine that spans the gap between spiritual truth and pure insanity. God could not have possibly intended for his story to be so misconstrued as to produce this ocean of fact and fiction all mixed together in such a way that it’s nearly impossible to identify where the misdirection ends and the truth begins.
All I want, is to know God, and clearly understand what he wants me to do with my life. I have to believe that’s what God wants as well. So why is religion getting in the way? In my mind the answer is simple: the devil. We want to know God. God wants us to know him. The devil wants to keep us all running around in circles going nowhere. We can’t make the mistake of discounting the devil as just a literary tool used to keep us focused on God. God is real. The devil is real. From the very beginning of Christianity, the devil has been subverting the message through a devious manipulation of the minds of religious leaders. The devil’s tactic is to divide and conquer. He’s winning.
When I read the New Testament of the Bible, I’m struck by the fact that those who cheered to have Jesus crucified were the religious leaders known as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The devil so clouded their minds, they could not see God standing right in front of them. The devil so clouded their minds, they elected to kill the human incarnation of God.
I don’t think anyone can deny that during his time spent here on this earth Jesus had a problem with religion. It is for that reason that I feel comfortable saying I have a problem with religion in today’s world. Is there more good than bad in today’s Christian religions? I don’t know how you do that math. I will tell you that I attend a Christian church just about every Sunday, but there were several years in my Christian walk that I did not. I still maintained a close connection to God during that time. I was still a Christian. I just wasn’t attending church. Being part of any organized religion is not a necessary component of being a Christian.
It also should be noted here that Jesus frequently went to the Jewish temple to preach the gospel – he didn’t avoid church. I think it’s obvious there is value whenever people gather to worship God. People getting together to worship God is a good thing. Jesus believed in corporate worship of God. Jesus also believed religion would be a focal point of the devil’s attack on Christianity. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 NIV) Jesus carried out his religion – or his worship of God, in service to others. Jesus was the ultimate servant going all the way to the cross to die for our sins. As followers of Jesus, our mission is to have that same servant’s spirit. Our mission should be to have the same religion that Jesus had – that is the religion of worshiping God by serving others.
It appears to me that Jesus had a love/hate relationship with religion. He warned us there will be those who use religion to take advantage of us. True religion – or true worship of God – is played out in service to others. Jesus demonstrated this kind of worship with his life. Jesus also spent time worshiping together with others the way we do in church today. Corporate worship is, in fact, a means of serving others through mutual support and fellowship. We need to find a balance of true religion – the religion of serving others – and corporate worship without falling victim to the devil’s schemes. Make no mistake about it, the battle between good and evil is real and is being played out in the halls of organized religion. It’s time for true followers of Jesus Christ to rise up and return Christianity to its foundational principle of serving others.
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