Are you Religious? | Religion Today
Are you into religion?
So many articles are written on "religion". What are your beliefs on religion?
Have you ever been asked, "So what are you... religious or something?" I got to thinking, what does that really mean? How do you answer that question truthfully? So I thought I would do a little investigative work on the subject of "religion" from a Christian perspective.
Religion is all the same right?
First things first:
We must know what it means right? i like to check out the dictionary to see what the experts have to say about something.
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. 2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion. 3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions. 4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion. 5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith. 6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice. 7. religions, Archaic. religious rites. 8. Archaic. strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one's vow.
Yowza...that's a big list of words!
That is how the dictionary defines religion.
Biblical definition for religion is much different
Religion in Greek is "qreskeia" and is defined:
- religious worship
- esp. external, that which consists of ceremonies
- religious discipline, religion
- esp. external, that which consists of ceremonies
This is a noun by the way. It is a person, place, or "thing" . It is not a verb- an action.
Do you find it interesting that the use of the word religion is found only a handful of times in the Bible? Here are the only verses I could come up with-
Acts 26:5 since they have known about me for a long time previously, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion. (This is coming from Paul giving an accounting of who he was).
Colossians 2:18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, (here the word qreskeia is used to indicate worship)
James 1:26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.
James 1:27 This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Did you find any others that I missed?
So what - what is the point?
I guess I found it ironic that the Bible-- our source of truth-- has only these things to say about The term "religion":
- Don't worship angels
- If you can't control what you say, this thing you call religion is worthless
and that pure religion has the following characteristics:
- Visit Orphans
- Visit Widows
- Be pure
Kind of different than what the dictionary said. So, this made me start thinking-
Do we practice religion or is it something else?
Would God have had more to say about "religion" if it was the basis of our faith? So why didn't he? Do you think it has to do with the possibility as Christians, we don't practice a "religion"?
WHAT???? That's heresy!
i know it sounds crazy...but consider this:
We don't have a specific "practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith" that "make us" Christian because our faith is based on a personal "relationship" with God.
Wouldn't this be the thing that separates Christianity from every other "religious practice" in this world? It is true there are myriads of religions in the world, all hold to lists of practices, gods, formalities, rituals, traditions, and teachings that must be followed to participate. But to my knowledge none of them claim to actually have a personal relationship with their diety(s).
Christianity, on the other hand, has at its foundation-- not a list of practices-- but a relationship in which we know God!
Consider this- we don't have a list of "practices" on how to have a relationship with our parents right? we are just are born into the family and we spend our life getting to know them. Our Father in heaven is the same way.
We are born (again) into the family of God and spend the rest of our lives getting to know him. And just as your earthly family has "rules", or a set of values, we live out as a family member (for instance in my family we try to be courteous to one another), our family in Christ also has "rules or values" for how we should live with each other and the world. But this is not the foundation for "being in the family"-- our relationship is the "being in" part.
If we aren't in a relationship with God- than aren't we just "practicing religion"?
if we can grasp what separates Christianity from all the religions of the world, i think this would be the key:
John 17:3 "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
So the next time someone asks you, "are you religious"? How would you answer them?
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