A statement that is quite popular her in the Northwest is this. ‘I am spiritual but just not religious.’ What’s amazing is how misguided yet right on this statement is. The misguided part is the fact that it is typically said in defense as to why they don’t believe in Jesus. But it’s right on because Jesus wasn’t religious either… in fact, the very people He was arguing against were the ‘religious’ people of the day.
Most people think the earthly ‘enemy’ of Christ was the Romans. After all, they are the ones who arrested, beat and crucified Him. But when challenged about His view of the Romans, His response was “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17) He didn’t call them hypocrites or a brood of vipers… He reserved such language for the ‘religious’ people of the day.
In Luke 12, Jesus even gives a warning to beware of such ‘religious’ people. “In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:1-3)
Religion is based on rituals, rites, habits and practices and has nothing to do with the heart. It’s all about actions… or at least the ‘visible’ actions. Jesus is pointing out that too many ‘religious’ people have wonderful public actions to show how religious they are… but their private actions do not match… they are hypocrites. Jesus said what really matters is what’s in your heart. When He was challenged about what commandment was the most important to keep, the hypocrites were seeking some sort of action or habit that must be kept. But His response was all about heart.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37-39) Nothing in here shows ‘religion’ but it says everything about the condition of your heart.
If you look through every symbol of the graphic above, every ‘religion’ out there besides Christianity is all about the things you must do. They all have a list of religious habits or actions that are required to earn eternity with your deity. But with Christ centered faith, it’s about what He has already done. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
(Rom 10:9) Nothing about actions or religion and everything about the condition of your heart.
So… I am not religious. I just love my Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart and do my best to love others the same way. And His grace covers me when I fall short.
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