Saturday, December 19, 2009


Religion is a dangerous thing. It unites people of like mind, but segregates them from all others. Religion tends to offer a formula for this life, and the life to come. It always includes lists. There are lists of things to avoid, and lists of things required in order to be in harmony with each other, and with God. It often produces a feeling of superiority and pride to those who believe in "the right way." There is an arrogance and disdain for those who have rejected their beliefs. For those who do not agree, there is either pity or hatred. Yes, religion is an ugly thing.

One hundred percent of all religions believe in a god, who is either loved or feared, or both. The observance of the lists by the believer determines which is dominate: love or fear. How the believer feels is determined by how closely he or she adheres to the lists. Failing to obey means certain rejection by their fellow believers, and by the god who makes his demands known to them through the "sacred lists." I have been told that the Jewish Bible contained six hundred plus laws with which they had to comply, or they were required to make amends through some kind of sacrifice or works. Not only were the lists mandatory, but the obedience to them was to be in accordance to the interpretation of the "clergy." Jesus had many conflicts with religious leaders who thought He was breaking one or more of their laws. He pointed out to them that doing good always trumped the restriction of another law. Healing, feeding, and raising the dead on the Sabbath was more important than sitting by watching those in need go unattended.

God had revealed His laws to the Jews, not so they could live by them, but so they could realize they needed God's mercy. Jesus did not begin a new religion. Jesus merely interpreted the teachings of the Law and the Prophets by living them. He taught that man could please the One True God, by loving Him, and loving everyone else (including his enemies). He simply reiterated what the prophet Micah had told them. "He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God" (Micah 6:8). We love God by doing things according to His character (What Would Jesus Do?). We love Him and our fellow man when we delight in showing mercy to those who deserve our wrath. And, we please both God and man when we walk in humility.

Humility. How does one become humble? It is quite simple, actually. When one thinks of how often God has forgiven sins, and how God has provided salvation as a gift, pride and feeling superior to others is impossible. God provided the payment for our sin through the death of His Son. God has given us a hunger to know Him. God has given us faith to believe in Him. What have we done? Nothing. Our relationship with God is one hundred percent the result of His work on our behalf. Jesus didn't start a new religion. Jesus taught us that God, Who alone is worthy of our worship, loves us! He doesn't want us to become religious; He wants us to love Him back! He loved us even when we were living a sinful, godless, selfish life. If we will let Him, He will clean us up and spend eternity blessing us. All He wants is to share Himself with us. Praise Him for all that He has done, is doing, and will do forever! He is worthy.

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