Does God Hate Religion?
Where's The Hope?
Does God hate religion? That’s a provocative question, isn’t it? Maybe so, but if the answer is yes, then what are we to do?
We are wired for religious expression; everyone worships someone or something. We can exert much energy denying our need for faith of some kind, but when mortality pushes and shoves its way into our thinking, then we all grasp for meaning and purpose.
Death is always creeping up on us, but sometimes it hits so brutally close to home that we are gripped by a great desperation for comfort that goes beyond the poetry of pretty sounding words. Even battle weary agnostics and atheists, whose journey was fueled by hostility toward all things related to God, find themselves questioning their belief system when the grim reaper comes a calling.
However, if God hates religion, then what’s the point and where’s the hope?
Life Worth Living
Our Father in heaven, the One whose voice was the big bang that spoke the universe into existence, desires to be in a dynamic relationship with each one of us. That was his intention from the beginning, but humanity chose to reject God’s plan. Sin, our innate rebellion against God, is the voracious destroyer of relationship.
Fortunately for us, God is love. He will never abandon us to our reprobate nature; this overarching character trait compels him to action. His longing for restored relationship is never-ending so he sent his only Son to repair the breach.
Rather than arriving on the scene to start another religion, Jesus of Nazareth came to call us into a new intimacy of relationship with the Creator, who according to Thomas Jefferson, endowed us with unalienable rights.
The first example of these God-given rights Jefferson set forward was “life”, which is certainly interesting since Jesus put a fine-point on his mission when he said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
That fullness or abundance of life; that place where we have life worth living can only be found in a thriving relationship with the One who gave us the right to it by programming eternity into our hearts.
What Is A Christian?
The word Christian literally means Christ-follower. Christ means Messiah; Chosen One; Savior; Deliverer; Rescuer. Therefore to be a Christian really means to be someone who follows Jesus Christ because they acknowledge that he is the Savior. Jesus put it quite bluntly when he said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
A Christian attends church to participate in corporate worship because they have a genuine relationship and they want to be an encourager and be encouraged in their faith. Just going to church without being reconciled to God won't make someone a Christian any more than camping in the woods makes one a tree or standing in a parking lot makes one a car. It's not a matter of where we go, but Who we know that makes a person a Christ-follower.
It is a tragedy when Christianity is perceived as nothing more than condemnation draped in meaningless and irrelevant traditionalism. That perception has been reality for far too many individuals, resulting in negative experiences that are roadblocks to relationship.
When any church disconnects custom or ancient ritual from relationship it begets an empty deadness; it is a grievous thing and is exactly why God hates religion that is devoid of relationship.
Consider anew God’s Word as proclaimed by a sheepherder turned prophet named Amos: “I hate all your show and pretense - the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
Connect Amos to what James, a leader in the first-century church at Jerusalem, wrote: “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
When those two passages are laid side by side it is clear that the Christian life is one of properly aligned relationships: With God; with ourselves; with our brothers and sisters in Christ; with the world around us. Any teaching that contradicts this by substituting religiosity for relationship is not Christianity.
God hates lip-service religiosity. The Bible is entirely unambiguous on the matter.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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