Religion That Doesn’t Get In The Way
“Religion That Doesn’t Get In The Way”
Sadly, what many seem to be looking for in a “church” today is one that will leave them with a good feeling, one that will provide them with hope for them and their loved ones beyond this life, a place to turn to in difficult times, and, a place that does not require too much from them. In fact, if there was a little (or a lot) or social activities (dinners, clubs, sports, recreation, etc.), that would even “sweeten the pot.” This is, all too often, man’s idea of religion.
And, that’s just fine if that is what we find in the Scriptures. If a “religion that doesn’t get in the way” of my own interests, hobbies, desires, etc. is was the Scriptures teach, then let’s all pursue that today! However, if the Scriptures point to something else, then, let’s all pursue that.
In this article, let’s evaluate what Christianity is supposed to be. Then, by understanding that, we can understand what our responsibility is toward our God. Let us all consider these things seriously. Do you desire a “religion” that doesn’t demand more of you than you want to give?
A False Religion Won’t Save
Let’s begin by establishing this fact. The apostle Paul wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6). The one God wants you to a member of the one body. Jesus Christ promised to build “His church” (Matt. 16:18). That church is the “body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27; Col. 1:18). If you are not a member of His church, you will not be saved.
So, what then does Christ expect from the members of His body? Can they be “fair weather followers” or disciples as long as they aren’t too inconvenienced? I trust that we will find that Christ demands more of His followers than that!
God Has Never Accepted “Second Place” Among His People
In the Old Testament, as well as in the New Testament, God demands the full allegiance of all His people. God is not content for a “disciple” to be lax in service to Him, nor lukewarm in service to Him, nor, even, “mostly hot” in service to Him. God expects full allegiance from every servant.
The Old Law simply stated, “You shall not have any other gods before Me” (Deut. 5:7). The Israelites were not to serve any idol. In fact, when they decided to be idol worshippers, the Almighty God punished them. God has never accepted “second place.”
Jesus stated, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:26-27). A little further He states, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33). God expects His followers to be willing to put Him first, even over the closest of all earthly relationships! God does not accept “second place” in your life!
What Are You Seeking In Religion?
Obviously, not all religions are equal. Do you seek a religion that has Christ as its center? Or, do you seek a religion that puts self in the center? That is the main question to consider!
A Christ-centered religion. A Christ-centered religion will focus on the sacrifice of Christ as being the only way you can be saved. Further, a Christ-centered religion will recognize the need to return a sacrificial love to God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). This type of religion will focus on keeping the commands of Christ, no matter what the personal cost might be. A Christ-centered religion will be one in which self is abased in order for Christ to be exalted! It will not seek the good of self, but to do the will of God and to seek the good of others. It will fulfill the command to love our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40).
A self-centered religion. A self-centered religion will desire the benefits of a Christ-centered religion (God’s grace, spiritual blessings, eternal life, etc.) without the dedication and work. The self-centered religion will seek to be fun and entertaining and be certain not to be too much of a burden/responsibility. Such an individual will seek a “church” that will meet those “needs.” He/she will seek for a “church” that doesn’t expect/require too much, such as fewer “required” services, delegating personal responsibility to teach the lost and help others, and, certainly, one that will not be too “dogmatic” about making changes in his/her life! He/she will seek for a “church” that has “preaching” that has all, or mostly, positive, feel-good, sermons that focus on love and the goodness of God; rather than focusing on rebuking sin and the severity of God. He/she will want a “church” that makes certain that he/she is entertained at all times.
Do you see the difference? Can you guess which kind of religion is pleasing to God? Our focus needs to change if we find ourselves more interested in pleasing ourselves than in pleasing God or pleasing others! Let us all place the emphasis on Christ! When we live a life that puts Christ in the center, then, and only then, will we be rewarded eternally!
Jesus Christ died for individuals to be set free from the consequence of sin (spiritual death) and to be able to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Jesus Christ did not shed His blood simply so that folks could live in whatever way they desired. He shed His blood to “redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14).
Let us all dedicate ourselves to live a life fully committed to the One Who has loved us enough to die for us! Let us give Him the best we have to offer, ridding our life of the sin that alienates us from Him (Is. 59:1-2), and becoming an imitator of Him! Let us spend our time in ways that we can accomplish His will. Let us be a member of His church that has Him as the Head and looks to obey His will! In all things, let us not look for a “religion that doesn’t get in the way.” Rather, let us be eager to be a living sacrifice to Him!
- Eric Krieg -
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.