Merely Religion

Just going through the motions.

That’s what many people think of when they internally define the word “religion.” They think that “religious people” merely “recite” prayers.

My wife was raised in a fundamentalist, independent Baptist church. She was taught many misconceptions about other people and their religions. The teachings about Catholicism were so off the mark, for example, that her mother was amazed to discover that the Catholic Bible was pretty much the same as hers. She was probably 60 at that time.

I’m part of a generation that tended to reject “organized” religion. When I was younger, I thought that true worship had to be in “house churches.” There was a movement in the 70s. I only reluctantly joined (actually rejoined) a denominational church back then. Now, of course, I’m sucked into the structure.

Our pastor hit on something yesterday. “Respect for God without intimacy with God is religion.”

You can respect God, yet not live with Him. You can respect God, yet fail to try to live a pleasing life. You can respect God by coming to a worship service, yet feel nothing. You can even sing the hymns, yet be unmoved.

Jesus pretty much didn’t discuss formal religion often, and when he did it was to point out the hypocrisy of the leading practitioners. He taught right relationship and right living.

The reason to develop Spiritual discipline–reading, study, meditation, prayer, simplicity, worship, praise, fasting, and the rest–is that these practices have been proven over many centuries to aid people in developing that right relationship with God through Jesus in the Spirit. As your focus is sharpened every morning through practice, the life you live that day will be more pleasing to God.

Worship does not have to be going through the motions, yet for many it unfortunately is.

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