“When a man is freed of religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life.”– Sigmund Freud
I had to chuckle to myself when I saw this quote on our screen at the beginning of our pastor’s sermon. I’ve heard his sermons for 3 years now and I have learned so much. I knew before he said a word that he agreed with this statement even though it was said by an atheist.
So often we think that religion was created by God/Jesus. It wasn’t, at least not in the way we often view it. Religion was created by man. How do I know this? Because I read and study my Bible. Do I believe something just because my pastor says so? I guess that would be the easy thing to do, and I really like my pastor. Do I trust him? Yes, I do, but how can I trust something so important to any human being? I want to know the heart of God, so whatever my pastor tells me must go through a period of studying the Bible and be prayerfully considered.
Freud’s statement was probably made as a put down toward faith in God. But when you look at Jesus’ ministry, you’ll see that he didn’t blindly follow the religious leaders. He challenged them often, knowing that he was stirring up controversy. He knew that it would ultimately lead to his crucifixion. But wasn’t that the point of him being on earth, to die so that we could be saved?
If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.– James 1: 26-27 NLT
The Greek word for ‘religion’ used here is the word ‘threskia’. Threskia refers to the external rituals or practices associated with an internal belief.
Then our pastor talked about the Multiverse. I sensed my husband’s ears perk up a little. He is also a ‘comic book nerd’ as Jon (our pastor) put it. This term is used to refer to multiple worlds that exist with different outcomes due to different decisions. We may not live in multiple worlds… but we sure do juggle them!
If we live in ‘Church World’ and we consider everything else as ‘Everything Else World’, then we use the rituals, practices, culture, and expectations to stay in ‘Church World’. Everything else we keep away. But, if we stay only in ‘Church World’ eventually we’ll have to defend and fight for it. We view the other ‘world’ as being corrupt and evil… controlled by Satan.
When how we worship becomes more important than who we worship, we get religion.
Oh, wow! That hit home. Rules, political correctness, laws made by man… where does it stop?! Man has made religion what it is. But, the only ‘religion’ that God accepts is faith – a trusting and trustworthy relationship (a 2 way relationship) with the person of God that expressed itself in practical loving action.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.Romans 12: 1 GNT
Did you catch the irony in “living sacrifice”? We use the term sacrifice to describe something we give up. In the first century a sacrifice was always a dead thing, something killed for a deity. Jesus followers no longer worship God by killing… we worship God by living.
So, how can we be “in the world, but not of the world”? Because of Christ who lives in us and died on a cross for us, we no longer worship God by killing.
Keep Jesus at the center of your world. One sacrifice for all of us.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.Matthew 7: 13-14
And remember this…
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.Ephesians 2: 8-10
We cannot give up meeting together! This is where we can lean on each other, build each other up, and share the grace of God with others. We “get” to be living sacrifices.
This is my take on the sermon. You may see it differently. There is no way I can fully give the message in a blog post. I encourage you to listen for yourself here. It’s good stuff! See you Sunday…