Are We Religious?
Welcome. Tonight we will be covering the topic of being religious, and what it means. I am writing this because I hear a lot of people who say they believe in the Bible say, "I'm not religious. I am in a relationship with Jesus Christ." According to the Bible is this an accurate thing to say?
- What "I'm Not Religious, I'm In a Relationship" Means
- Is This Right?
- What Being Religious Means
What "I'm Not Religious, I'm In a Relationship" Means
When they say they are not religious they are not saying they do not believe in a deity. We associate religion with doctrines, rules, and restrictions. These people generally focus on the grace and love parts of the Bible and not the other things like what is right and wrong. Others say this because it separates them from the others. For example, a Protestant may claim he is in a relationship with God, but he will say a Catholic is only in a religion, meaning he has no connection to God. It has become a dirty word among all denominations and other belief systems too, especially those who believe in a higher power but not a specific one. It is done to either separate oneself from the stigma associated with religion or to separate oneself from other religions.
Is This Right?
Firstly, the disassociation the rules and regulations of religion can lead us down the path to lawlessness. Yes, we are saved by grace. And we are not saved by works. But how do we know someone is in the truth?
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.— Matthew 7:16-20
James 2 further expounds upon this when we realize that faith without works is dead and that those who claim to keep some parts of the Almighty's righteous law but not all are hypocrites. The Bible does give rules for us to follow, yet because people focus so much on grace they abuse it.
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.— Romans 6 1-4
Denying this is to deny grace itself. We cannot abuse this wonderful gift. As for the other reason, it is good to distance yourself from false religions. We should not strive to be like the other ones. But we cannot deny the facts. Just because they call themselves a religion does not mean we cannot say we are not one. Some religions claim to believe in one God. Are we to say we have four of them because they have one? Or should we say we do not have a god but a goddess? The reason for separating ourselves from the world is not for the sake of separation or uniqueness itself.
1 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.— Jeremiah 10 1-2
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.— Romans 12 2
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.— James 4 4
The purpose of separation is to separate what is right and what is wrong. When we focus too much on not being like them and how to be like a righteous person we end up doing what they do, rejecting the Most High. Though we believe in a higher power we are not like them even if somebody can apply the same term to us. We have our customs they have theirs.
What Being Religious Means
Now we will look at the definition of religion. It comes from the Latin word religiō, Though it is associated with spiritual beliefs, originally it was not limited to that. Religio among the Romans was not based on "faith", but on knowledge, including and especially correct practice, (Ando, The Matter of the Gods, p. 13.). Cicero, a Roman philosopher, used it as, ""the proper performance of rites in veneration of the gods." Though we do not believe in multiple gods, this word is used in veneration towards the one that someone worships. If Paul and Isaiah can use the words of pagans and turn it back on them by using them to worship the one true God, why can't we? Especially because this is not a proper noun. This is no excuse to start calling him Zeus or Odin, but this word can be applied to anything. We can use the word love for anything just like this word. We love our family. We love our friends. We love our life. And we love the Father.
1 John 2 15
In our efforts to not be like the world and to strive towards worshiping our creator, we should not forget why we are to be separate and how we should be separate. We must always be on the lookout lest our zeal overtake us as it did Saul when he killed the Gibeonites that were to be spared because he was obsessed with Judah and Israel. 2 Samuel 21 2.
Peace and blessings and all praises to the Most High.