Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

April 23, 2010

In the Name of Religion

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Religious people can be dangerous!  Have you ever realized that some of the greatest and best people were victims of religion?  The prophets in the Old Testament were persecuted by religious people.  Jesus was crucified by the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, the religious leaders of that day.  John Hus was burned to death by church authorities.  The church excommunicated Martin Luther.  John Wesley was shut out of the churches, even his own father’s church.  The clergy leaders of Iran executed several thousand opponents of their regime.  The assassination of Egypt’s Anwar Sadat was carried out by religious fanatics.  And in recent years, we have been confronted by tragedies carried out by religious people.  It seems a warning is appropriate:  “Watch out for religious folks!”

Religion can be any expression of belief.  The belief can vary from a state of mind to a code of behavior.  It can be a system of worship of a deity, but it can also be a fabricated system of man.  Don’t ever ask me if I am a religious person.  That question is too wide open for a response.  If you want to ask me if I acknowledge Christianity, my answer is yes.  But go further in asking me.  Ask me if I am a Christian.  I will answer yes, but even then I will give you a much more definitive answer.  I am a believer in and a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.  That takes it out of the realm of just being religious, doesn’t it?

There are too many things that are done in the name of religion that do not reflect the person and nature of Jesus Christ.  Whenever we allow the human element to prevail, religion will deteriorate.  There will be a de-personalization of people.  Causes, codes, and laws become more important than people.  When that occurs, we are not part of the “religion” of Christ.

Today, the Christian church must guard itself that it does not slip into a de-personalization of people.  Many churches today are considered a great success because of the size of the church buildings, the annual budget, and the number of people attending.  But in God’s “religion”  people come first!  With primary focus on people, the religious people would not have exercised such tragedies as described in my opening paragraph.  These tragedies inflicted upon people by religion are the result of a focus and commitment to a cause, a political agenda, or the personal gain for the leader.  In my own ministry, I have not been threatened, persecuted, or attacked by non-religious people.  It has always been those who declare themselves religious!

God’s “religion” is centered in the care of persons.  ” . . . they should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.”  (1 Timothy 5:4)  God’s “religion” does not destroy people, but  loves and ministers to people.  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . . .”  (James 1:27)  God’s true people will love one another, and love even those who don’t love Him!

If I could give some advice, it would be this.  Don’t let your church slip into being religious–that is, setting some code of conduct or the accomplishment of some goals that will be so consuming that the needs and hearts of people are forgotten.  Don’t allow your own life to become so religious that it blocks a relationship with Christ.  Christ’s ministry was not to an organization or project, but to individuals.  Thus it must likewise be the motive of our life and the church.

” . . . as I have loved you, so you must love one another.  All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”  (John 13:34,35)

 Lawson

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2 Comments »

  1. Absolutely loved this. It is so true and I personally have been guilty of putting legalism above my relationship and commitment to Christ.

    Comment by Jody — April 23, 2010 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

  2. One sentence described what I allowed to happen during some of my time in “professionial ministry” — my ministry took precedence over my relationship with the Lord.

    Comment by maggie — May 3, 2010 @ 9:51 am | Reply


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