The Nature of Religion

August 21

Noted sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke once said: “Religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses.” Famous ‘philosopher’ Bill Murray stated: “Religion is the worst enemy of mankind. No single war… has killed more people than religion.” And the second President of the United States, John Adams, once declared: “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there was no religion in it.”

This might surprise you, but I agree with every one of these statements. That’s because they are right. Religion misleads. Religion corrupts. Religion poisons. Religion kills. 

religion

This may seem strange coming from a Christian, but religion has done more harm than good. That’s because religion, by its nature, is a distortion of truth (while claiming to be truth). Religion is never what God intended – and can never produce anything God intends.

In short, religion is man’s idea of what God desires… and often has little to do with what God truly seeks from human beings.

It is the nature of religion for the powerful to oppress the weak. You can always tell religion by the way its leadership treats the faithful. Often, it is an authoritarian dictatorship, demanding blind obedience without question. The “people” are subject to the whims and “revelations” of the ones in power. Whether it is in the demand of building dirt mounds (as in yesterday’s post) or in a strict observance of the leader’s teachings… the powerful are exerting their “prowess” over the people. Study any of the cults and this fact just jumps out at you.

Jones speaking

It is the nature of religion to promote earning your way to divine favor. Religion is all about the rules (the do’s and don’ts) that reduce the practice of faith to a display of regimen and religious fervor. As you look at most of the world’s religions you are met with a list of “requirements” that faithful adherents must observe. You also see an emphasis on certain activities that “prove” one’s faithfulness to the cause – usually in the form of some “expression” of self-denial or self-brutality.

flagellants

It is the nature of religion to stress sacrifice as a means to “higher” status. Suicide bombers. Willing (or unwilling) human sacrifices. Infants offered to gods. Indulgences. All a form of “payment” to reap a greater reward (here, or in eternity).

Suicide-bomber

In short, religion is all about human effort (or using people) to gain recognition for your efforts – to feel good about yourself in this life… and to gain some divine “brownie points” beyond this life.

And none of this has anything to do with true Christianity.

In true Christianity, leaders are called and required to serve. To be the living imitation of Jesus in serving those “under” your charge. To serve AS He served. Leadership is selfless giving to help others to grow up and grow strong in the faith.

washing-feet.jpeg

In true Christianity, the emphasis is all on what GOD has done for us so that we may “gain” what He offers us as a gift of His love. The requirement “list” is brief: “believe in your heart” and “confess with your mouth.” There is nothing to earn – only something to accept because of all that God has done for us, through Jesus.

And in true Christianity, the main sacrifice stressed is the one that Jesus made for us. Even when sacrifice is mentioned, it is never to gain some higher, more exalted status before God – it is to be a blessing and benefit to those around us. It is to use what you have received… to help those in need.

I emphasize true Christianity, because Christianity can certainly BE a religion (no different than all the world’s religions) when it pursues all the same things, by the same procedures that any religion does.

But Jesus did not come to bring us a new (or better) religion – He came to bring us into relationship with God. He came to unite us with the One Who made us… and whose driving passion is to love us, and love through us, every day of our lives.

About theheartseeker

I have spent years studying the Scriptures and seeking for God's answer to the question: What IS true Christianity? Let me share some answers with you...
This entry was posted in Daily devotional, religion, True Christianity, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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