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Doing Things Religiously

Doing Things Religiously

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Category: Leading in Hope

Have you ever questioned just how religious you really are? I don't mean just how often you meet with your church. One of the false indicators of how religious we are is church attendance. It's not unusual to ask about a friend's spirituality and the response is, "We attend church regularly." Although I agree that can be some indication of the relationship of people to God,(Hebrews 10:19-25) it's not necessarily the best indicator and is surely not the only indicator.

A man reports the following true incident about himself:

I had heart bypass surgery recently. For recovery, they have you do an exercise program and it was emphasized that I must do this program "religiously." So I go to the doctor and he asks if I have been exercising. I reply, "Yes. Religiously." "How is it going?" he asked. I said, "Well, at first, it was kind of tiring doing all those exercises once a week ..." "Once a week!" he exclaimed. "Yeah," I replied, "you know, you said to do them 'religiously.' So just like church, I do them every seven days."

The word "religious" as used in the Scriptures is defined as "fearing or worshipping God." It is not the fear of retribution, but the usage emphasizes strongly the ideas of "dependence upon" and of "being anxious to please God above all else." It is a personal fear of failing to be found pleasing to God, because we worship him and hold him above all else in our lives.

So basically, how religious you are is determined by how committed you are to God. Part of that commitment will cause us to desire to be in the midst of others who are worshiping the God whom we love, but that is just the observable effect of that love in our lives.

The problem, as I see it, is that just like the man and his exercise program, far too many of us exercise our religion only once every seven days. Somewhere we have come up with the idea, or perhaps the tradition, that "worship is on Sunday" and if we worship then we are religious. Perhaps it's time for us to examine what we are doing and why we are doing it; it could be that what we are doing is just following a tradition and not God's word at all!

Jesus talked to some people who had this problem. Jesus replied, "You hypocrites! Isaiah was prophesying about you when he said, 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God's commands with their own man-made teachings.' For you ignore God's specific laws and substitute your own traditions." Then he said, "You reject God's laws in order to hold on to your own traditions." (Mark 7:6-9)

So, how do you measure the condition of your religion?

Is it time for a change?

Jesus said: Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as "Lord," but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, "Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name." But I will reply, "I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized." (Matthew 7:21-23)

About the Author

Russ Lawson
Russ Lawson is a former missionary to Africa and minister in Ohio. He now works with World Christian Literature Outreach and writes a weekly email devotional, Messages from the Heart. For more information about Russ, click here.

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