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Don't Be Comfortable With Religion! (A Brief Study)

Updated on January 11, 2018

Whether we believe it or not, we were created to endure adversity. We were not supposed to try to "boil life down" to a system that will always flow smoothly. Jesus said that in this world we would have problems, trials, and persecutions, but then added, "I have overcome the world." Man was designed by the Creator to need God, moment by moment, to get through adversity that would certainly come upon him in his life. Relying on God ensures we endure the problem, trial, or persecution we're facing. But that's not how we see it, is it? We want life to flow downhill like a gentle mountain stream, no rapids, no waterfalls, no obstructions. Only if our mind can conceive of a solution, do we allow for a problem in this day-to-day experience we call life. We whine and complain if we reach the edge of our comfort zone or if things don't go our way. Any situation that is bigger than our understanding, we deem as "unfair" or seek to blame God. So man devises ways of looking at God and himself in relation to the world. He synthesizes a system of belief that suits a single man or group of men and calls it religion.

Definition of Religion: Man's devising a way to live life and worship God that he (the individual) feels is correct or that makes sense in that individual's mind. * It is man's endeavor to explain God.*

Be careful! As soon as you devise a plan, to make life go smoothly, without mishap, and a way put God in a human-sized box, there is religion at its core. God does not want man to create guidelines to worship Him, or to create guidelines of behavior for himself and deciding what is right for him or wrong for him. God wants us to listen to His guidelines and follow them. He wants us to learn to obey Him and take Him at His word. Since man is not the author of this body of guidelines that God has given, some of the things God has said will be difficult or impossible to do in man's own strength. These things in God's will may make little or no sense to a man that is not connected to God in a spiritual way, or not walking with Him. We are, after all, sinners that pull away from God at every turn.

Definition of a Walk With God: Connected-ness to God by the blood of Christ so that by faith a person learns about God's words and commands, learns to obey them without question, and learns to follow the Holy Spirit's lead in life, in worship and in service to the Lord of Lords.

There are many variations of religion because each man tries to cover the bases of their favorite aspects of eternity using only their finite minds. People will search until they find a way of belief with which they can feel comfortable. Each "system of belief" seeks to explain God, to break God down to edible man-sized bites, essentially creating an idol of who God actually is. If a person does not find a group that suits his comfort zone or his own sensibilities he may begin his own group that he leads or settle for no group at all, practicing his religion in his way, in private.

There will always be people that claim to have a "worship-less life" but those people are deceiving themselves because all people worship something. If they do not worship God, they will worship money or success or power or knowledge or even their own mind and thoughts, their own needs and desires. Man is irresistibly religious. A person will either worship God or will have a religion in some form, but they will worship something. Remember, religion seeks to make sense of life's profound questions by applying finite thought to it and devising rules that seem to encompass eternal spiritual things. Religion in varying forms is present everywhere and so is also present in political groups, in social reform groups, and in scientific think tanks. All people worship something.

People disconnected from God will create a way to feel like they are addressing the spiritual problems of life, but now, I would like to consider how religion infiltrates churches of believers most of which are connected to God and that are worshiping and walking with God.

Religion is an attitude we allow to develop in us in which we stop turning to the sole rule of truth and practice, the Bible, for doctrine and measuring our steps. Instead, we begin to think outside of the parameters of God's Word. We begin to place human logic or human emotion over "Thus Sayeth The Lord." These people of which I speak are individuals that do know Him, are aware of the Bible, and still insist on practicing religion. To be clear, I'm not speaking of individual church groups that have differing ways of expressing worship to God when I mention believers "practicing religion," I'm referring to people creating religion individually or in a group within that church. I'm also not referring to people that are called to a different assembly by God to serve there. God does, at times, move people to be "unsettled" in one group of believers and calls them to another because there is where they will better serve. You can tell God is in that move because they do settle in and serve, feeling at peace and at home where they have been spiritually relocated. These are not just church-hoppers that go from assembly to assembly, seeking the "perfect church for them." Church hoppers want religion, not worship.

In preparation of His departure from this earth, Jesus said that He would send another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, and that He (the Holy Spirit) would "guide us into all truth." Anyone that's familiar with the concept of a "guide" knows that two things must be true for the arrangement to work. First, there must be unfamiliar terrain through which only the guide knows how to lead. Second, there must be trust present in the one guided so that he will follow and not break off on his own, simply because it seems the "right thing to do."

You will find each assembly of believers has its own Spirit-led individuality, crafted to that group's Spiritual gifts and talents. Each church assembly is unique and the Holy Spirit guides that group of individuals in a way that is designed just for them. Some assemblies will need a powerful form of expression, others will be led in more conservative ways. That is the workings of God, not religion.

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper [Holy Spirit] will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you but you can not bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you." (John 16:7-15)

Religion pops up in a church because we allow it in ourselves or devise it for ourselves. Those people will believe they see a better way for the church to grow or a teaching that needs to be included. They won't care that the Spirit is leading that church, it is their reasoning and desires that matter to them. Sometimes it spreads out into groups within the assembly that will eventually split off from a church that serves God to form a group somewhere else where it will practice religion. I know of a case in my own church assembly where a wealthy family that attended, approached the pastor and demanded that he refrain from including an invitation to accept Christ at the end of each service which was the custom since our church's inception. They said that if he did not stop this practice that they believed was unnecessary and ridiculous, that they would leave the assembly and "take their money with them." These people may have been sincere, otherwise kind and generous people but they had reasoned out something based entirely on human logic and religion, not based on the Word of God at all. Of course, our pastor refused and they left, I presume, to find a religion that did not do this thing or that they could influence not to do this thing. This is religion. One other example I remember is that a couple that attended our church left because they did not understand why the church had to bus underprivileged kids from the inner-city to church. They were disturbed because the kids were not dressed right so that some were raggedy, some not so clean because they came from homes that had very little. They expressed the thought that they believed that church should be a place of standards and people should not be allowed in that did not come up to that standard. In their minds they were totally justified in the request. Their religion demanded that standard. Problem is: God, in His Word has no standard like that so, of course, they too were refused their request and they too left the assembly to find another more suited to their religion.

Most people hold their head high and claim to be spiritual instead of religious thinking that puts them in a class by themselves. They are not immune to religion for most of them create their own personal version of it.
Most people hold their head high and claim to be spiritual instead of religious thinking that puts them in a class by themselves. They are not immune to religion for most of them create their own personal version of it.

Signs Of An Individual Practicing A Religion Instead Of A Christian Walk With God.

A person must examine themselves and see if any religion has made its way into their thinking. It is an insidious thing. We are creatures of habit and we form habits usually based upon how to best serve our flesh. When we are comfortable in our worship each individual should make sure that he is not just practicing religion. Remember that a walk with God will always be attacked by Satan, therefore a walk will not always be comfortable. But that doesn't mean it will always be uncomfortable either. Your walk with God will be challenged and a person maintaining a Christian walk will have to refer to the standard of God's Word constantly to keep their path straight. Here are some general guidelines to spot religion in yourself. When you do, ask God to help you root it out of yourself and get back to a walk with Christ.

1. Cruising On "Auto-Pilot" Is Religion.

This can be the number one pitfall for the active Christian. We are serving the Lord and find ourselves getting so busy with what is on our list of "to-do's" that we leave God out of its essential working. We begin to busily work in the flesh instead of listening to the leading of the Spirit. As soon as we veer from God's leading, we are practicing religion. Once you're "doing the best you can" it's only one short, sinful hop to "doing what you want to do." Without Holy Spirit guidance, we have only the Flesh and our constantly vigilant enemy, Satan, to guide us.

2. Never Leaving Our Comfort Zone Is Religion.

This is another way to gauge ourselves, a way to measure how much we allow religion to hinder our Christian Walk. Ask yourself the questions: Am I willing to do anything the Lord God asks me to do? If I knew the Lord wanted me to do something out of my comfort zone, would I do it? Would I go anywhere or would I simply disregard the Lord's directive if it takes me into uncharted, unfamiliar places, doing things I've never done? For example, if you receive a prompting, to talk to somebody about Jesus, a friend or family member and instead you say to yourself, "I will just be nice and show them Christian friendliness, it's the same thing." No, it isn't. What you have done is practice religion.

What about time? How much of your time belongs to God? If you think about it, every second of life that we have is a gift from God. Do you resent every second that you spend in church or doing God's work? A person that reasons, "I go to church for an hour on Sunday and an hour on Wednesday, that's enough." No, the attitude should be that my life is God's and each moment is the Lord's to do with as He sees fit. There are directives from Scripture that say we are to "guard our thoughts," to "pray without ceasing," to always be about God's business. We do not "play religion" for two hours a week. We walk with God 24 hours a day, everyday. A person that changes God's call and leading to suit his whim or comfort, or a person who disregards God's call and leading, or one that devalues it, is practicing religion.

3. Thinking That You Totally Understand The Lord And All Of His Ways Is Religion.

This is a trap common to cults. "Come meet with us," they say, "and we will explain the mysteries of God." Soon their explanations fall short of the questions and they find themselves making up their own doctrine. Or maybe they will try to shrink God down to a more easily understood form in an effort to explain Him and His reasoning. When that fails, often they toss the Bible in a corner and write their own book. When we have dealings with the All-Knowing, All-Powerful God of the universe, there will not always be a meeting of the minds. How can there be? He sees the total picture, we, only a piece. He knows His plan for us, we don't always know what He's doing. But we know this: We can trust Him at His Word and His Word is always enough. A walk with the Lord will sometimes take us through periods of darkness, but we can trust Him to never leave us or forsake us.

"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say, "The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6)

So, if you were testing yourself about religion, how did you do? How often do you find yourself cruising along on auto-pilot in the power of your own flesh? As soon as you realize it, do you confess it, and let God lead you again? How sacred to you is your own comfort zone? Do you form your own religion around that with which you are comfortable? or do you follow Jesus wherever He leads? Do your find yourself so confident in what you believe that you are not able to be swayed by Scripture? or are you constantly learning from God's Word, realizing that He and His Bible are eternal and that we will always be learning of Him?

Make up your mind right now to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading. Pray for enlightenment and understanding which you will find in the Holy Bible as you read daily. God doesn't ask you to stop thinking and reasoning out spiritual matters, but He wants us to know how strong our flesh is in fighting for control. The easy thing would be for us to make up our own religion. The harder, (and most importantly) correct thing, is to give over control and guidance to Jesus. He knows where we're going and how our future will play out. Trust Him with it.

Has your concept of religion changed because of this article?

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Now a moment please for the person who feels they don't need God. Perhaps the person may feel that he and God "have an understanding." If you are that person you probably like the way you think of God. He doesn't uncomfortably require things around you and you have a pretty good idea how to live in that way of life that you have chosen.

I want you to know that I care for you so I have to warn you that I'm going to say some things that may not sit well with you.

First of all, if the preceding paragraph describes you, you are practicing religion. Religion is you finding your way to God by doing things that make sense to you and not listening to God about what God wants. "There is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof is the way of death." God Himself says that His "thoughts are not your thoughts and His ways are not your ways."

Man must seek God but God is the one that will find you. He will make Himself known. I venture that He has made Himself known to you already, through things that have happened in your life, through death or new life, through poverty or plenty. In these times, you have heard a small voice in your mind that was God saying "I'm here. I want to come in and live in your life."

Coming to Christ starts out with the knowledge that you are a sinner and in need of something you don't have. That "something" is a Savior to pay for your sin. You know down deep you need a Savior and Jesus has knocked on your life's door for years waiting for you to open that door and let Him in. It's easy to do that. If you believe that Jesus is God in human flesh who came to earth to die for the sins of all, you are almost half-way there. Next, you must believe the Gospel which is that after Jesus died, He was buried and then rose on the third day. All you have to do is call out to Him right where you are in your life. Let Him know that you believe in Him and you need forgiveness for your sin and you need for Him to save you. Let Him know that you're willing to turn from how you have been living and follow Him all the rest of your life. If you are this person and need to call on Him, pray this:

Dear Lord God, I have been making up my religion as I go along. I know You have been knocking on my life's door and I have hesitated about letting You in. I believe that You, Jesus, are God in human flesh sent to earth to die for my sins. I believe You came and they nailed You to a cross. They took You off that cross and you were dead in the tomb for three days. I also believe that You rose from the dead and now have paid for my sin if I only ask for forgiveness. I ask You, please Jesus, forgive my sin and save me. Change me and show me how to live. I am ready to follow You and I turn to You as the only way of salvation. Thank You for saving me for I have prayed this in Jesus' holy name. Amen.


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    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 7 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Now that's better. You are the best. Same back at cha. xxxooo (see balanced Grasshopper!)

    • IntimatEvolution profile image

      Julie Grimes 7 years ago from Columbia, MO USA


    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 7 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Hey, I get only one X and all those hugs? What's the deal? What kind of a balanced Christian life is that?Julie you are such a sweetie. I so appreciate you reading and I have promised myself to read everything you write as well. I love being your friend. Yes it only makes sense. If there is a devil, where should he hang out but where people are trying their hardest to live for God. So church people and religious minded people. Gotta keep them under his thumb so they won't find what is genuine about spirituality and that is Jesus. Loves ya lady.

    • IntimatEvolution profile image

      Julie Grimes 7 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

      Your "signs" listed that serve as a beacon to us lackadaisical Christians, are spot on! You know I think in the early stages of our friendship that I missed some of your hubs, because I don't remember this one either, and I apologize for that.

      I can appreciate this hub very much, for it seems that you're on the same message-pathway that I am. Especially concerning Christian roles and Christian behavior. I think just like with material substances, Christians get more caught-up in the whirlwind of perceptions, verses actively persuading (what should be) our one true goal in life, which of course is to be more "Christ-like."

      Great sermon Love! You should try your hand at the ministry. You're rather good at it!!Xoooooooooo's

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 7 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Standing around the throne of Grace will be wonderful. I will have you and so many of my family, some of which I have really never met to give a hug or to just experience them personally. The throne will be a place where the people who know Christ will be one in Him. The fellowship so sweet that it will be all we need for companionship. While the religious people have had their reward in full and are experiencing the results of a life that did not include Jesus, we will enjoy true peace love and oneness. You me Chrissy, Robert all of us. We will serve and love and worship our Lord together forever. Amen. Lottie, hon, I love you too! I can't wait. "Even so, come Lord Jesus."

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 7 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      UNITED WE CHRISTIANS STAND, DIVIDED WE CHRISTIANS FALL! As always no body your Hubs touches me and lift me-up! You are an inspiration and a light to me! God Bless you!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU!!

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Religion is an overused term, outdated and misapplied. Religion is popularized to the point that no one uses it in the way of it's original intent. A couple of hundred years ago the term religious meant something different than it does now. Many more people had a relationship or at least realized about a relationship with God. Then the culture changed and we became homogenized, and instantized and condensed. We began to think that our money could buy anything. Then our job was not to know God, our job was to go to work. We pay the preacher to know God and to just give us the bottom line. Then it became fashionable to say that one didn't believe in God at all and here we are today. In a society where, if you're religious you are a kook,instead of if your religious than we may elect you for public office because you're God fearing.

    • Dave Sibole profile image

      Dave Sibole 8 years ago from Leesburg, Oh

      Mankind has never been void of religion. Too many times people get content with religion before they experience Him through a relationship with Him through Christ. Good hub.

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      We were created to need God. He has always intended for us to have Him be the center of our lives. He does grant the dignity for the individual to make up their own mind to walk with Him or not. Once we are saved it is not up to some rules of the group how to worship. It is not anything manmade. Religion is man's idea of how to please an eternal God. Christian walk is an intentional dependence on Jesus to lead us and acknowledging that we are incomplete without Him to walk through this life. My sister, I hope you never change that picture (even though I know all of your pictures would be as beautiful). I just like this one because it is as if you are seeing me do something silly and saying "Oh that's just him, I love him anyway." Love you lots DeB.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 8 years ago

      Nobody, This is wonderful! God intended for Christianity to be a lifestyle and for Him to be the center of that lifestyle. We come together in a Brick and mortar building to fellowship and praise Him... We are supposed to "Worship Him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH!" We are all still sheep in need of Him as Our Shepherd! We all also should honor, worship and praise Him everyday through our Christ centered lives.

      The Holy Spirit is His precious gift that He has given us as a Comforter and guide. As you so well stated: "Jesus said that He would send another Comforter. the Holy Spirit, and that He would guide us into all truth. Anyone that's familiar with the concept of a "guide" knows that two things must be true for the arrangement to work. First, there must be unfamiliar terrain through which only the guide knows how to lead. Second, there must be trust present in the one guided so that he will follow and not break off on his own, simply because it seems the "right thing to do."

      Yes, we NEED GOD we never get to the point that we can do without HIM! We as His children are continually growing daily. As you say "we were created to endure adversity" As we learn to TRUST HIM we can boldly step out in FAITH knowing that He is with us ALWAYS and will NEVER LEAVE NOR FORSAKE US!!! God will never lead us to do anything that goes against His WORD! Thank you my brother! In His Love, Blessings!

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I agree with you Shaul. Cults and social churches that teach a gospel other than truth are lying even though they hold together as one. They are convinced that it is truth but it isn't and I'm not sure if that is where their tenacity comes from in their opposition to Christ. Some of them hold together with more vigor than do we, the bride of Christ. Our local called out group of believers (ecclesia) needs to stand for truth. It starts with the individual believer. We need to hold to the truth while we love our brother. We need to sharpen our brother and "get alongside" to lift him up. We need to watch out for wolves that are among our flock to steal sheep and dispatch them with all speed. But we still need to have as a working platform Love. Though Love is tough and strong and hard at times, it comes from the same place as the forgiving, tolerant, embracing kind. (And I always feel respect from you Shaul, you are a good man)

    • Shaul Stein profile image

      Shaul Stein 8 years ago

      With all due respect.

      We need to remember that unilty without truth is a unity of lies.

      We have to be one even as They are One, and They are One in Truth~~~Firstly.

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Thanks Jim, The Christian walk is clear, it is my "awful" duty to love you. hahaha Seriously,You make it a joy to be a Christian and it is easy to love a brother like you. Talk to you later friend.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      I do agree. If it is about Christian Community and Unity it is a very good thing. :)

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      James, I was referring to individuals that even worship themselves as having religion. Worship of the Lord is not religion. The word only happens one time in Scripture where it is said to be positive. Every other place it is a negative thing. The positive one is in James 1:27 and it describes an attitude that goes along with a good Christian walk. With that attitude you will serve the widows, orphans, poor etc. as an outworking of having good religion. Most times the word is used to refer to a way of life that people think will save them or do to impress others. In that context I hate religion. But Christain fellowshipping and worshiping is only a sign that a person has good religion (works as a result of walk). Do you agree or do you think I am missing something? Appreciate imput. I love you brother.

      Shaul Hi buddy. thank you for stopping by. The world certainly hates people who stand out for the Lord with genuineness and often do get the persecution that Christ got. Love ya bud.

    • Shaul Stein profile image

      Shaul Stein 8 years ago

      I am really glad Messiah took it to far. :-}

      People that do often get murdered.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      This is a good Hub. We do want to be more spiritual than religious but we want to be careful not to go to far with this. The enemy's favorite thing is to bash religion. All religion means is a group of people who believe the same thing. Nothing wrong with that. Your warnings about certain possible effects of organized religion are good. Thanks.

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I agree that churches are not there to tickle the ears of the pastorate. I used to need a wheelchair coming out of church after I was beat up by the Holy Spirit. Now I just hobble out because my toes were stomped. I guess I've grown a little. However the goal is not to be so austere that no one enjoys the fellowship and worship. Just tell the truth and if folks can't handle the truth they have the right to leave. And they have a right to come back when they want more. Truth with love that's the formula. It sounds like you came from a good church that really preaches the truth. That's good. Many blessings friend.

    • Shaul Stein profile image

      Shaul Stein 8 years ago

      Nice hub.

      The moment I hear the term "seeker friendly" at a church, I leave! It's a waste of time talking to them because they are convinced Messiah was a "seeker friendly kind of guy" and that He was "all inclusive"...what a joke!!! I have been tossed out many times.

      He was the friend of sinners, but He also told them "go and sin no more"

      I like the example of Gideon's Army. Started off with 30,000 and was narrowed to 1% to be picked for the task.

      Not to seeker friendly to me.

      We are soldiers and are Commander is The Lord God of Armies. The last time I checked the Army is NOT seeker friendly, nor does one join up to be "comfortable"

      When are His people going to wake up?

      When people like me, give them a swift kick in the ass!!!

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      We know that is not true because of all the science in it. While the rest of the world believed that the earth was a flat plate or rode on the back of a turtle or on Atlas' back, the Bible said it was a ball suspended on nothing. While the greatest minds in the world believed that the ocean was a big bowl of water, the Bible spoke of mountains and valleys in the ocean. The great currents of the ocean were discovered because Mallory's son saw "paths of the sea" in the Bible. Mallory said, "Son I don't know what paths of the sea are but if the Bible says there are paths in the sea, there are paths in the sea." He went on to be the father of oceanography and mapped the currents of the world. His maps are still used today. Want one more, ok. Neil Armstrong was a Christian. When the first lunar landing happened they had big flat feet on it designed to stay above what they thought would be at least 1000 feet of dust that accumulated over the billions of years the moon had been there. Neil Armstrong said that the earth was created within 6 days. When he got off the ladder he leaped with confidence while NASA nearly fainted. Know how much dust was there less than an inch because that was how much that would have been there if the creation account was real and the moon had only been there for 6000 years or so. I do appreciate the question but a little digging is facinating.

    • profile image

      Ken 70 8 years ago

      All of the above is great. What if all of the bible is written by a bunch of dope heads?

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      That means a lot coming from you brother. Thank you for your always stopping by. You are a good friend.

    • Vladimir Uhri profile image

      Vladimir Uhri 8 years ago from HubPages, FB

      Absolutely great hub. We needed it. Thanks.


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