living without religion
Read James 1:27 to see what true religion looks like.
How have you been placing more emphasis on religious ritual than on your relationship with God? How does true religion glorify God?
An advertisement recently went up near my hometown that read: “You don’t need God to hope, to care, to love, to live.” The advertisement was part of a national advertising campaign by a group that calls itself Living Without Religion. While I don’t support the group’s specific agenda, I’m all for living with less religion.
At its core, Christianity is not about religion. It’s about having a restored and personal relationship with Jesus Christ and showing love to others (Hosea 6:2; Mark 12:28-34). Much of what passes for religion is typically a set of man made, culturally based rules and regulations. It often consists of some moral, behavioral code that has few do’s and a whole list full of don’ts. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t go to the cinema. Don’t listen to certain types of music or read certain kinds of books. Don’t get a tattoo. Do read the Bible, pray and attend church, of course, dressed in proper attire.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were all about religion too. They prayed. They read the Holy Scriptures. They attended the synagogue. But they also added many, many layers of rules to the Jewish laws that God had spelled out in the Old Testament. They made laws about the laws! It was all part of an elaborate system to try to attain favor and peace with God. But Jesus said their religion was insufficient (Matthew 23:1-13) and that they had missed the whole point of the law (Matthew 22:37-40).
Religious ritual is not about faith in God or loving others. It’s about mastery and control. It’s about reducing one’s life and standing before God to a legalistic, manageable system (Hosea 6:6). Faith is involved, but not faith in Jesus—it’s faith in one’s ability to follow the system.
Religion can be about good things, but it can also be a substitute for Jesus.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 12:22-50
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