“Religion” masquerades as godliness but has no power to back it up. It thrives on the concept of attaining right-standing with God through works while downplaying Jesus and Who He is to us. Unfortunately, religion and religious people have caused many to actually run away from Jesus and the promises contained in the Bible. A determined focus on mere man-made ideas has been responsible for death, destruction, and strife among people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. It is why denominations fight, and it is what provokes extremists to carry out suicide missions in the name of God. Religion is the counterfeit of godliness.
Jesus used every opportunity to blast the religious leaders of His day for carrying out vain traditions that meant nothing. Just read Matthew Chapter 23, where Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for saying one thing but doing another and for following blindly after rituals and Law-based traditions done only to make them look good. Religion is made up of man’s ideas, interpretations, and prejudices based on selfish desires, attempts to control others, and a self-deceptive attitude that “we are always right.” Where is God in that? Religion completely takes God out of the equation and replaces Him with the god of “self” in the form of self-righteousness.
On the other hand, true Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship. Within that relationship, we receive the love of Christ, and allow it to flow out of us, into the lives of others. As result, what people see when they experience us is not an attitude of pride and religious tradition, but an attitude of compassion.
Now, more than ever before, people need to hear the true Gospel of Jesus Christ! It starts with the true love and grace of Jesus Christ. It is a message of hope, not condemnation; liberty, not religious bondage; and grace, not self-righteousness. Most of the things we have grown up hearing about God are completely incorrect! We must not trust more in ourselves than we do in Jesus.
As a result of religious teachings, many of us have come to relate to God as a difficult, rigid, taskmaster Who is waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us! That is so far from the truth! How have we gotten so far away from the true Gospel? Why are we presenting an image of God that is false, that turns people away? It is time for us to get back to the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and share the truth about the love and grace of God.
When I reflect on my life, my journey as a Christian, and my understanding of the Word of God, I thank God for continuing to give me revelation regarding this topic. There are religious ideas that I grew up with that I have found to be flat-out wrong! My hope is that we all carefully look at the religious misconceptions that we have heard and internalized, and discover the truth about what it means to have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. It is through relationship, not religion, that we are empowered to do the works that Jesus did and more.
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