The etymology of of the word religion can be defined as "a return to bondage". So then it follows that to be religious means to practice being a slave. If the goal of religion is to gain God's favor then I would suggest that the effort is futile. Why? Because we are all already in His favor!
It might come as a suprise to some that Jesus did not come to set up a new religion. Christianity was not meant to become Judiasm-lite. He did not come to replace one set of impossible rules to keep with another set of impossible rules to keep. Not only did he not intend to set up a new religion He announced the end of an old one.
This is most important, He did not come to start a religion, He came to establish a relationship. A relationship between Him, His Father, the Holy Spirit and every man, woman and child on the face of the earth. That was the plan from before creation. Eph 1
What is now called "Christianity" is a man made religion that became firmly establised about 300 years after the death of Christ. It's rituals, rules and practices are a vain attempt to get God to repent.
Prior to that time to be called a Christian meant that you were recognized by non-believers as a follower of Christ. Now, as it was then, to be called a Christian is not a compliment. Today polls suggest that anything related to Christianity is not to be trusted and not to be taken seriously. The practice of the religion of Christianity has become one of the largest obstacles to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Before I go any further let me assure you that nothing is more important to me then following Jesus and being obedient to Him. Nothing is more important then in spreading the good news of Jesus. And doing that has nothing whatsoever to do with religion! Earlier I said rituals, rules and practices are a vain attempt to get God to repent. I did not misuse the word repent. We typically misuse the word to mean to stop doing something. Most often that thing is related to "sex, drugs, and rock N roll". Repent really means to change ones mind.
Everything done in every religion, including Christianity when practiced as a religion, is done to get God to change what He thinks about man. Many think by practicing religious activities, meaning the things we do on a daily or weekly basis will get God to "change His mind" about us; to love us more, to not be angry, to forgive us, to bless us, to remember us. We do a myriad of things to keep on God's good side. They are all unnecessary!
How do you know if your "practicing religion"? If you think there is a single thing that you are obligated to do or not do to gain His favor or to avoid His anger you are practicing religion. His love is not variable depending upon our actions or words. He even loved us while we were His enemies! Rom 5:8 We can love Him because He first loved us.
We don't need to get God to change His mind, God does most assurdibly not need to repent. We don't need to go to someplace God is because we presume He isn't someplace we are. We don't need to numb our pain with drugs and alcohol because we think we have been rejected by every person and even God Himself. We don't need to become workaholics to avoid even the possibility of an intimate relationship with our family because we know that even they hurt us if we let them get to close. We don't need to become embroiled in one love affair after another, one marriage after another until we finally come to understand the truth about God and the truth about people.
What if what is true about God is that He is the one who knows everything about you, knows whats best about you and knows what is worst about you and yet He loves you unconditionally.
We adopt religion because we think the true thing about God is that he is absent from us. We adopt religion because we think by observing rules and adopting rituals we can gain His favor.
What if He is the one that will love and accept you exactly as you are. What if He is truly your heavenly Father who loves you more than anyone ever has or ever will! What if there is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less?
The greatest lie ever told is that God, meaning Jesus, His Father and the Holy Spirit is separate from us, that there is a great divide between us. Religion is predicated on the belief that there are someplaces that God is and someplaces where He is not. He is in that temple, He is not in that bar. He is in that church building, He is not in my house. He is in that Faith Healer, He is not is that prostitute.
Col 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Lies distort reality. They cause you to believe things that are not true. They cause you to act and react inappropriately. They cause you to do the wrong thing for the wrong reason. They cause you to turn your back from the very one who loves you most. They cause you believe that what is real is fake and what is fake is real. They cause you to live in darkness, where you stumble along in life doing ever increasing amounts of damage to yourself and others.
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