|Vol. 2, No. 5||Page 10||May 2000|
Buddhists would say yes. Hindus would say yes. Moslems would say yes. In fact, most of the world would say yes. The question is “Are you religious?” If, then, Christians answer this same question in the affirmative, what exactly do we mean by “religious?”
It would appear that there exist different concepts of religion among those who attend the services of the Lord’s church. We are not concerning ourselves with what people say in this regard, rather with what they do. It is obvious by their actions that some view religion merely as something they do on a regular basis. Attending services is the beginning and end of their “religion.” They surround themselves with a false sense of security. They have convinced themselves that regular attendance relieves them of any other obligations. Whether they verbalize it or not, they view religion as isolated events, which they can perform on a regular basis. They then go home and are not concerned with Christianity until the next event takes place.
This is the attitude, which dominated the “religion of the Jews” in the first century. They were concerned with little more than outward appearances. Their religion was limited to rituals, which they could perform with great fanfare. Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 23:5-7.
“But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’”
The Lord said in Matthew 6:5, “. . . when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” The Lord clearly condemned this attitude toward religion. Those, today, who perform only the outward signs of Christianity are equally condemned. To limit one’s religion to regular attendance, which can be seen by men, without committing the heart to twenty-four hour per day service to the Lord is vain and without value.
Christianity goes far beyond religion. The true child of God is immersed in Christianity. His every thought and action is a result of a desire to emulate Jesus Christ. He is seen by men to be a Christian. He is seen by family to be a Christian. In his deepest thoughts, which only God sees, he is a Christian. On Sunday, he is a Christian. Monday morning at work, he is a Christian. Thursday night while out with friends, he is a Christian. Christianity is a way of life and is to be lived all of one’s life.
The apostle Paul understood, in hindsight, that he had not persecuted a religion, but rather he had persecuted an ingrained way of life. “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” (Acts 22:4). Once converted, Paul understood that Christianity was a way of life and he lived it.
“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:14-15).
Paul also wrote, in the book of Hebrews, concerning Jesus Christ and the way we are to live, in view of His great sacrifice.
“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them, then He adds, Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:12-23).
When it comes to Christianity, are you a spectator? Is your idea of practicing religion limited to the pew in which you sit? If you want to be found faithful, you must understand that Christianity is the new and living way, and it must become your way of life.