My late mother used to proudly tell her friends that her son was “very religious”. I tried many times to explain to her that being religious wasn’t necessarily a good thing. What I had was more than religion it was a relationship with Jesus.
There are radical muslim groups that very religious and end up slaughtering people and causing havoc throughout the world. There are religious people such as the notorious and extremist Westboro Church who insensitively protest at funerals and spread a message of hatred and revulsion with their anti-gay, anti-humanity and anti-mainline Christianity signs and actions.
The most religious people in Jesus day were the Scribes and Pharisees who were meticulous in their observance of the letter of the law. Jesus reserved His harshest judgement for them. He called them, hypocrites, blind guides, and even a bunch of snakes. He castigated them for crossing land and sea to make a single convert, “and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!”. He said everything they did was simply for show. He accused them of shutting the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. “You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.”. He said they were like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. “Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Tragically it is often the religious people who are the major opposition to committed and faithful believers in Christ.
True Christianity is not religion. True Christianity is faith in Christ alone.
Some religions are essentially nothing more than a list of rules, do’s and don’t’s, that a person must observe in order to be considered a faithful adherent of that religion. Other religions focus more on observing rituals instead of obeying a list of rules.
But the true faith is neither rules-based nor ritual-based. True faith is a relationship with God. Mankind is separated from God and needs to be reconciled to Him. False religion seeks to solve this problem by observing rules and rituals. True faith solves the problem by recognizing that only God could rectify the separation, and that He has done so. God came to us in the person of Jesus Christ and died in our place. If we receive Jesus as the Saviour, trusting His death as the full payment for our sins, we are forgiven, saved, redeemed, reconciled, and justified with God.
True religion does have rules and rituals, but there is a crucial difference. In true religion, the rules and rituals are observed out of gratitude for the salvation God has provided – not in an effort to obtain that salvation. Observance of these rules and rituals is not what makes a person right with God.
No matter how you try and spin it. Jesus is the only way to heaven, no matter how hard you try to be good. Jesus already paid the price for our sins. Christianity is having a personal relationship with Christ not following a set of rules.
Becoming a Christian means that Jesus Christ comes into your life and takes over. It is a totally new outlook that is not satisfied with anything less than penetration into the furthest corners of the soul and the understanding
Christianity is not a spectator sport – buying a ticket and sitting on the sidelines. Becoming a Christian means no longer living for yourself but for God and in obedience to Him. You must leave the old life behind and step into a new way of living, where Christ makes possible what you thought was impossible. The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.” (2 Cor 5.17)