I was viewing a high school friend's Face Book profile yesterday and saw that he considered himself spiritual but not a big fan of organized religion. I agree. In fact, whether it's organized or unorganized religion is material. All religion sucks big time.
Why is that? Religion, as I understand it, is man's attempt to reach God, Deity, becoming one with nature or whatever you want to call it. I did religion for a lot of years before I finally figured out religion while comfortable and familiar, was really spiritually unsatisfying. There was a hole in my spiritual self I was trying to fill that religion attempted to fill but simply could not.
From a Biblical perspective, religion was never God's intent. Man tried it at the Tower of Babel and continued throughout history. It never worked. So what did fill the hole? The Bible speaks throughout its pages of God, the Creator of this universe, wanting to have and develop a relationship with his creation, man. It has always been that way but man has always attempted to do it any way but the way God intended.
Sometimes we put on the trappings of religious ceremonies with lighted candles and doing various "stuff" that we think will court God's favor. The Bible says there is nothing we can do to earn God's favor. Absolutely nothing. We can't buy it, can't trade up for it, live what we think is a good life or do enough good things (religious term is "works") in our life to tip God's heavenly scales to get us into God's presence.
So if we can't do anything by our individual performance to earn God's favor and have a relationship with Him, how do we come into that relationship and what makes it different than "religion".
The Bible says we are to recognize we are sinners and that Jesus came to forgive our sins and bring us into a relationship with God by the Holy Spirit. We enter that relationship solely by faith in that we agree what God says about Himself, says about us (we are sinners and need Him and are spiritually separated from Him) and that only through Jesus can we experience that personal relationship God wants for each of us. No special ceremonies. No mandatory church attendance (although attending is highly beneficial), and no "doing the "stuff". The relationship is free to access.
For the performance oriented out there, there is a cost. It is our lives of living for God through Jesus. It's not doing "churchy" things but learning who God is and what He wants for us. It becomes a way of life. You can't have a relationship with a person without knowing them. You get to know God by reading about Him in the word of God (the Bible). Jesus is the revealed Word (John 1:1). Those of you who have been to church and quit going, did you ever notice in those Gospel accounts how Jesus spoke of a relationship with the Father and with his disciples. He upbraided the Pharisees, Sadducee's and scribes for practicing "religion". Jesus was about relationship. He still is.
I made the decision to gunny-sack religion about 30 years ago. It was a process and a difficult one coming from a traditional Roman Catholic background. While I still miss some of the trappings of the ceremonies and understand why they were done, I also realized that the ceremonies didn't bring me into relationship with God. Jesus did. The church didn't save me. Jesus did. I can't live a happy and life with meaning doing religion. I can do it in a personal relationship with Jesus.
So, where are you with religion? Do you want something more from your life? Do you want to really know what real spirituality is all about? Come to Jesus and you'll will find everything your life has been lacking. You won't get everything you want but He will give you everything you need.
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