It seems like the more people I meet, the more I find people that have a problem with religion. It always begins with the same arguments. Someone tells me they don't agree with organized religion because of how corrupt it is or how fake it is. Someone tells me they shouldn't be tied down to a bunch of rules by a guy that floats around on a cloud and persecuted by a group of his followers for breaking those laws. Someone tells me God doesn't exist because there is injustice in the world, how could such a "good god" let all of this bad stuff happen? Those people that say those statements think I'll buy in to what they're saying as what they actually mean.
But I know better than that.
When someone tells me one of those arguments against religion I know what they are really saying. They are telling me they wouldn't dare group themselves with a group of people like those "ignorant, hypocritical Christians" because they are afraid of what people might think of them. They are telling me they don't want to own up to their actions because that would involve taking personal responsibility for the wrong things they have done. They are telling me they have been affected by something so devastating that there is no possible way God could exist. Why would God let something like this happen?
Fear. Selfishness. Brokenness.
These are the reasons man rejects religion and the opportunity to have a relationship with God through His Son Jesus.
I don't understand what people have against religion. Is it really true that religion is the cause of the world's problems? Or is it that man, in his inherent sinfulness, is responsible for the tragedies we face every day? Religion is not the problem, man is the problem.
Really take a second to think about this. Man is born with original sin, the inherent desire to do that which is wrong in the eyes of God. When man chooses to indulge that sinful nature instead of killing it and turning from it, corruption happens, destruction happens, death happens. Whenever man is a part of the picture of course things are going to go wrong. The same goes with religion.
When man begins to take God and fit Him into a box that will not hold His holiness, we limit an unlimited God to our limited understanding of Him. That is where the church fails. They fail to let God be all that He is and try to fit Him into this building we call a church when in reality, He is the Head of the Church. Man makes God into something that is tangible, something he can understand. That is when religion becomes something that God never intended it to be. He made us to be so much more than what we are.
The one thing that has stuck with me the most from my Old Testament class has been the lecture on the Ten Commandments in Exodus. Being a church kid my whole life, I knew about the Ten Commandments and the rules I was supposed to live by. I knew about the guy named Moses with the long beard and the two stone tablets with writing on them. Five rules on each tablet, at least that's how it was in the pictures. But after discussing the Ten Commandments in my class, I think my views on the Ten Commandment have become a little more educated.
Entertain this thought that is purely from my own mind (not in any sense Biblical): Instead of there being five commandments on each tablet, maybe God chose to write the first four on the first tablet and the remaining six on the second tablet. My professor presented this idea to the class and I am choosing to extend it with some of my own thoughts on the matter.
My professor divided the Ten Commandments into two different groups: Laws kept to God and Laws kept to people.
I am not sure how I have never had this realization. In all my years of Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, youth group, and church, I have never seen this separation. I always thought it was just the laundry list of things God did not want us to do. But it is so much more than that. Jesus reiterated the distinction in Matthew 22:36-40:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”37 And he said to him,“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the great and first commandment.39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus perfectly explains the entirety of the law in two sentences: "Love God. Love people." If only the Church still held fast to God's greatest commandment to us.
Has religion lost this foundational teaching? Is this why the world constantly blames religion for the problems it faces? Has the church lost its love for God and the people of this world? What do you think? Do you disagree with and reject religion because you know with complete certainty that God does not exist or is it because of the reasons I listed above? Are you afraid of what people will think of you if you try to test the truthfulness of Christianity? Or are you afraid of the results you will find? Are you not willing to take responsibility for your actions and admit that you don't deserve mercy and grace? Are you broken by tragedy or devastation and need to feel the healing power that comes only through a relationship with Christ?
I am just as guilty as you. I was afraid of what people would think of me when I told them I was a Christian. Would they look down on me as being some unintelligent sap that followed a myth from over 2000 years ago? Would they not like me because upon hearing I was a Christian, they could group me into a hateful bunch of ignorant murderers and persecutors? I did not want to accept that I was not good enough. I felt that my character, good deeds, and reputation was enough to get me a seat at the Great Feast. I did not want to stare my sin in the face and accept that I was broken by it, deserving of eternal damnation by a God that could, and should send me to Hell. I watched my cousin Jori be literally destroyed by cancer for two long and painful years. You tell me I haven't experienced tragedy as I saw the life leave her body. You tell me I don't understand doubt and devastation when I, a confessing Christian and Christ-follower, left that hospital room questioning why God did not heal her of this terrible disease.
But my God has set me free of my fear, He has loosed the chains of my sinfulness that once bound my wrists through the sacrifice of His Son, He has revealed to me why bad things happen to good people and why He took my cousin from this planet.
Christianity is a religion, but it is so much more than that. What other world religion teaches a personal relationship with a personal God? God is not some distant force or entity. He is all around us. He is within us. He is beyond us. The God I serve is so much more than a rulebook and a lightning bolt with my name on it when I break His law. He loves me. He wants to see me grow. He wants to see me thrive, not just survive. I serve a God that surpasses all religion because He cannot be contained within the walls of a church and He cannot be contained within the limited capability and capacity of my mind. My God WAS, IS, and will always BE. For all eternity He will continue to live.
That is why He sent His Son to die for me and for you. He does not want to separate us from Himself for eternity but it is what He must do if we choose to reject Him because He is wholly Just and wholly Righteous. If this at all stirred your heart, the Spirit is trying to move within you.
Please contact me if you have any questions about anything or if you need prayer. The Spirit within me knows you and will intercede for me if you need prayer. Always remember that I tell you these words because I sincerely do love you and I want to see you live. I would not write these posts if I was not genuinely concerned for your eternity. This life is meaningless without Christ, and eternity is unbearable without Him. He died for you because He loves you. Only through Christ can we return to God the Father. Seek Him.