Christianity is NOT a religion
Many people refer to Christianity as a religion, when in fact, it is nothing of the sort! Its pretty much the complete opposite and I will explain why...
In religion, the only way to be right with God is by earning your way. It is based on "do this" and "receive that"; Or in other words, by works and not grace. Christianity is different from every religion in the aspect of all other religions, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Mormonism, state that you must earn the right to be loved, accepted and reconciled with God. Its by what you do and how you live your life that determines your eternal and spiritual destiny. It is all based on good deeds and bad deeds. That alone shows Christianity is not a religion.
Religion is a system of beliefs, or a set moral code of conduct , that judges a person, qualifies or disqualifies, based on their obedience to certain codes, laws, rules, traditions or performance of required acts. Religion, almost completely, is enforced by those in power to attempt to maintain, increase or abuse power over others. Religion is the creation of man and man alone. It is not the intention or design of God. It is very common for man to take something that is not a sin in the bible and make it forbidden or filthy. People have used Jesus to justify adding certain and many requirements to being a Christian that to the naked eye of an unbeliever, it is a religion. A few examples are:
Not drinking alcohol, not listening to certain music, only certain forms of music are to be used in church, insisting church is to be held on only certain days, that you can't be saved unless you are circumcised, only reciting in ritualistic prayer, you are not saved unless you are physically baptized, you can't eat certain foods, you must preform rituals, being saved is only thru church attending or church membership, you have to earn your salvation by doing good works or good deeds, and the list goes on.
When Jesus physically walked the earth, religion was everywhere, just as it is today. There was a group known as the Pharisees who were corrupted religious leaders. They took the word of God and passed it down from Moses and the prophets and self-interpreted what the scripture said. This is known as the Torah and the interpretations are called the Talmud. They wrote another commentary on that commentary and called it the Mishnah. The Mishnah is a list of hundreds or rules and laws to meet in order to ensure and know you were being obedient to God. This was all created by man and has very little to do with actual scripture. An example is from the 10 Commandments, from the Torah "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy"; the Pharisees made hundreds of rules in the Mishnah that must be followed in order to correctly follow that one commandment. One example is you can't walk through a field on the Sabbath because your sandal may clip a grain of wheat and if that happened you would be harvesting and there for working on the Sabbath day. Which in tern, means you are sinning. Jesus did not approve of this and actually hated it. He hated the way they used the people's love for God to control them and limit their freedom. It in tern made the relationship between God and his children a bitter and empty one made of strict laws and regulations. This is the opposite of what God wants. He wants to have a real, open, honest loving relationship with each and every one of us. He wants to show His love to us all and He wants us to love Him as well. That is the actual point of the commandment. The Sabbath day was intended to be a day for us to take a break from work and refocus on what is important. To spend time with our family and spend time with God. Spending good quality time together is how you form a real relationship. All 10 Commandments are about relationships and either improving our relationship with God or other people.
Jesus Said "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matt 22:37-40
Paul Said "For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” Romans 13:9-10
The law is summed up in real love. Love for God and love for other people and your family. It all has to do with relationships on every level. It was not intended and never was intended to be a list of strict rules that have to be done like a chore list; Its just pure and basic love. Religion is man trying to reach up to God. Christianity is about God reaching down to us and loving us with an unconditional heart. Religion is about what man must do to be right by God. Christianity is about what God has already done for us. Religion says you must earn salvation and love through good works and deeds and straying from evil completely. Christianity says all's we have to so is believe that Jesus Christ paid the price for all the evil we have done, and paid for out salvation.
We are all evil and filled with sin and there is nothing we can possible do be be worthy of salvation. There is nothing man can do by himself that is worthy of it. NOTHING! That is why Jesus Christ stepped in and took our place and paid all of our debt. He paid the price so we can be saved. He gave us a free gift of salvation if we choose to accept it and believe in Jesus, that he died as our savior.
“Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” Romans 3:19-25
“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18
“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
To Be 100% clear : NOTHING MAN CAN DO ON HIS OWN MAKES HIM WORTHY.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9
People still to this day believe their family and friends will go to heaven because they were "good" or they were a "good person". Being good had nothing to do with salvation on any level. Religion has to do with good deeds, MAN has to do with good deeds. Without God sending Jesus in our place, NO ONE IS GOOD ENOUGH! Everyone has sinned and has fallen short of the glory of God. If we claim we have no sin we would be calling God a liar. If we believe we are truly "good people" we are also calling God a liar. The original intention for the law is to show us how to love because we are not humanly capable of fully loving anything with our own hearts for our hearts know sin. It is through Christ's salvation we are deemed acceptable and perfect by the Holy Spirit. When we receive him we receive the Holy Spirit which has the ability to change our hearts to be more like Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that accomplishes this within us and changes our hearts, not our own human effort or good deeds. Many will claim to be Christians, when in reality, they are just a product of religious over-dosing. Don't blame God for what man and religion has done to discredit his love for us.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Matt 7:13-14