What is the Meaning of Religion?

Religion is a fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally
agreed upon by a group of people. These
set of beliefs concern the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, and
involve devotional and ritual observances.  They also often contain a moral code governing
the conduct of human affairs.  Well over
90% of the world’s population adheres to some form of religion.

The two most common ingredients in religions are rules and rituals.
 Some religions are essentially nothing
more than a list of rules, dos and don’ts that a person must observe in order
to be considered a faithful adherent of that religion, and thereby, right with
the god of that religion. Two examples of rules-based religions are Islam and
Judaism. Islam has its five pillars that must be observed.  Judaism has hundreds of commands and
traditions that are to be observed. Both religions, to a certain degree, claim
that by obeying the rules of the religion, a person will be considered right
with God.

On the other hand, true religion is neither rules-based nor
ritual-based.  True religion is a
relationship with God.
 Christianity has always stressed a
personal relationship with God as the benchmark of religion.  When God created Adam and Eve, He walked with
them in the Garden of Eden, in the cool of the day, and enjoyed their
fellowship.  Religion was, and still is,
a close, personal, and satisfying relationship with the creator God. 

True religion
does have rules and rituals, but there is a crucial difference.  In true religion, the rules and rituals
are observed out of gratitude for the salvation God has provided, not
in an effort to obtain that salvation.  True
, which is Biblical Christianity, has rules to obey, such as do not
murder, do not commit adultery, do not lie, etc. and rituals to observe, such
as water baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper/Communion.  Observance of these rules and rituals is not
what makes a person right with God.  Rather,
these rules and rituals are the Result of the relationship with God, by
grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as the Savior.  False religion is doing rules and
rituals in order to try to earn God’s favor.  True religion is receiving Jesus Christ
as Savior and thereby having a right relationship with God, and then follow rules
and rituals out of love for God and desire to grow closer to Him.

Down through the ages men have devoted their entire life to
enjoying this personal relationship with a God who loves the fellowship
of human beings.  Abraham was called the friend
of God in 2 Chronicles 20:7 and James 2:23.  In Genesis 18:17 we read, “Then the LORD
said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?”
 Exodus 33:11 says, “The Lord would speak to
Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”
 David is called a man after God’s own heart.  (See 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22)  The list is endless.

Blaise Pascal (French Mathematician, Philosopher, and Physicist 1623-1662)
said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot
be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the creator, made known through

The New Testament confirms Christianity is more than a religion; it
is a relationship with Jesus Christ.  John
15:9 says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now continue in
my love.”
John 15:15, “I have
called you friends.”
John 17:24, “Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am.”
John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than
this that he lay down his life for his friends.”
In John 10, Jesus makes
several statements demonstrating His deep love for us, “I am the good
shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I know my sheep
and my sheep know me — and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Jesus summarized the true meaning of religion in Matthew 22:37-40, “Love the
Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We can be assured that God longs for relationships not rituals,
humility not hierarchy, and intimacy not insecurity.  Religion implies fulfillment of conditions
prior to God’s acceptance.  A fulfilling
relationship comes through accepting God’s unconditional grace and mercy.

Do you
have a relationship with Jesus Christ? 

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