March 4, 2010

Losing My Religion

I get frustrated when you ask someone about their beliefs and they rattle off what their denomination believes. I have done a lot of reading in the past few years to help discover what it is that I believe and to detox myself from denominational beliefs.

In my reading I recall someone mentioning that often Christians know more about what their denomination believes than what the Bible says. Perhaps they can state the 10 core beliefs of their denomination, but can they recite 10 Bible verses?

I am not saying we do not need help interpreting the Bible because we do, and I have sat in the midst of some great Bible teachers. But it bothers me when we start minimizing verses in the Bible to condemn others. We are told not to judge, lest we be judged, but how many times do we judge others.... even when they are sitting in the pew in front of us in church.

I have been judged because I wore jeans to help out in a children's program at a church. I have been judged because I am a mother who works full-time outside the home. I have been judged because I run on the Sabbath. I was judged because I had a belly ring. And I suppose I will be judged because I have a tattoo. And I have judged others.

I think the wake-up moment came to me when each Sunday I would stand in front of my closet and fret over what to wear to church-- It had to be a skirt or dress. Then one day it hit me... God does not care what I wear to church. God does not care if I have two earrings or five. God does not care if I have brown or pink hair. God does not care what my outward appearance looks like at all.

God wants me to have a relationship with Him. He looks at my heart.

I am not sure if what I said above makes any sense, but below is something that gets to the core of it for me.

(Written by D. Hall)

Religion is simply "a form of worship." Some confuse religion with Christianity. Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son. God loves each and every one of us and is reaching out to us through His Son. (Heb. 1:1,2)

Once we believe and receive the Son of God, we are free to worship God any way we wish, within Godly parameters. James said that if we want "religion," a form of worship which is acceptable to God, go and take care of the orphans and widows. (James 1:27)

Jesus said, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." ( John 3:17) Jesus Christ came to bring salvation to the unworthy, to sinners, and it is not based upon a person's religious denomination, theology, or good works. (1 Tim. 1:15; Isa. 64:6)

Some religious groups claim that salvation is exclusive with them, and only those in their religion will be saved. Truth is that God's salvation is available to all who come to Him. He excludes no one and He doesn't deal exclusively with one group, organization, or religion. He deals with individuals.

No religion has eternal life or salvation to give to anyone and there is not one word in the Bible which even implies that we can get eternal life through a religion or that we must go through a religion to get to God. During this era of grace, salvation is contingent on our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son, and nothing else.

No one will be saved and receive eternal life without believing and receiving Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only WAY to God, He is the only TRUTH, and He is eternal LIFE. Jesus is, "the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6)