This is a really a topic that you must know I write with the best intentions. I’ve blogged such topics as Religion vs. Faith, False Teachers, Sunday Christians and The Occult, just to name a few. But today I really want to view a slightly different facet; I want to address the definition of Christianity and touch on people’s fascination with religion. There is real danger in getting wrapped up in a religious mindset. Consider this blog the tie that binds the blogs I’ve mentioned.
To be honest with you, I’m not sure what to even call myself anymore. I’m certainly not religious. I’ve defined myself as a Christian, but so does the majority of the U.S., and where are the fruits? Christianity is truly a name that is tossed about carelessly. Here is how the American Heritage Dictionary defines “Christian” in the noun sense:
1. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.
The problem with the first definition is, that even Satan believes knows Jesus is the Messiah! The second half of this definition has to do with following a religion based on Jesus life and teachings. The second definition is a more accurate by my standard. “One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus”, it still doesn’t imply the true definition of Christian in my book because there are so many who live according to some teachings of Christ but not others; so this too is vague.
Ephesians 5:1-2 gives one great example of what it should mean to be a Christian:
- “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
To me, this means as Christ has set a good example for us, we ought to do as Jesus has done; obeying God, praying, reaching out to others, following Biblical scripture, and giving up our old self for Christ, following Him.
For those who seek holiness in ways other than doing what Christ has taught us through His teaching or through His anointed apostles, may either being doing so in vain or even committing idolatry. Many well meaning churches get so caught up in religion and tradition appearing to lose sight of what Christ is really about and who He really is! He came to set us free from religion and traditions that are contrary to what He has taught. I imagine Jesus is grieved by those following false teachers, worshiping images and praying to anyone other than God. God is a jealous God. I’m going to speculate that people seek images to worship and religious traditions that involve tangibility because they still live in the flesh.
- “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6)
- “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-5)
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law; justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, with out leaving the others undone.” (Matthew 23:23)
It’s also easy for people to go to church and listen to their trusted pastor, neglecting to research the word on their own. God’s anointing may truly be on a pastor, but they too are human and err at times. Heed the warning that there will be false prophets who know the word inside and out. They can be very deceptive. This is why it’s critical you know what God really has to say in His word which is the Bible. Regardless of how old or new a religion is, how nice the people are, or how much charitable work they do, if it contradicts the word of God in any form—run!
- “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)
- “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
All Scriptural references are quoted form the NKJV.