Friday, December 31, 2010

"Less Religion?

    In a store we frequent, I've recently noticed on several occasions a book that promotes the notion of "Less Religion, More Jesus."  Perhaps you've seen or even read the book, and found the authors to be sincere, and their content helpful.  If so, that's fine and I can understand that the theme of their book might address valid concerns.
    In my view, however, the thought that "less religion" might foster "more Jesus" is not Biblically accurate in the most direct sense.  Less false religion would certainly help toward that end, but the term "religion" in and of itself is a Scripturally faithful way to express genuine worship of God.
   "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:26-27).
    The Greek root word of the Biblical term "religion" simply means worship.  Thus, less religion would literally imply less worship.  By definition, such a path could never lead to more Jesus (although I feel certain the authors of the book do not intend this result).  I don't mean to quibble, but I do believe that words, particularly Biblical words, are vitally important.  The misinterpretation and subsequent sacrifice of the word "religion" in recent decades inevitably weakens our communication of the Gospel as we forfeit usage of terminology directly inspired by the Holy Spirit.
    Every human being is religious because every human being worships someone or something.  The Bible teaches that we either rightly worship the Creator.  Or we misdirect our worship toward that which is created, and thus become idolaters (Romans 1:25).  God hard-wired us for this internal devotion of ourselves to something bigger than ourselves.  The term "religion" is helpful in this regard as we communicate Christ to our world because people need to know that being religious is not a foreign concept or reality.  Again, everybody worships, and everybody is religious.  The issue involves the object, or subject of our devotion.  Our religion either expresses devotion to the living and true God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and is "pure and undefiled."  Or it expresses devotion to some false god of devilish, worldly, or carnal making.
    When the born again believer is asked, "Are you religious?," an excellent answer is simply, "Why yes, I am, as is every person on the planet."  Upon this basis we proceed. "By this, I simply mean that everybody worships and trusts in something or someone bigger than themselves, whether they know it or not.  Is it the living and true God, as known through the Lord Jesus Christ, and is it therefore living and true worship?  Or is it something less, and thus something dead and false?"  Recognizing the validity of "religion," as confirmed and taught by Scripture, and being aware that every person is religious, gives us a strong inroad into leading religious idolaters into the Bible's "pure religion and undefiled" of the Lord Jesus.
"For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens."
(I Chronicles 16:26)

No comments: