Please do not misunderstand my intent in this message. I love the fact that being a Christian gives me a close relationship with God. My relationship with Christ, who lives within me by His Holy Spirit, is the greatest love interest in my life. Yes, Christianity at its core is based upon our relationship with God. We are intimately united with Christ. We are IN Christ. Yet, within that relationship there are things that God requires of me, just as any Father requires of his children. These things I am to do fervently with great devotion and out of love for Him and reverence for Him. Practicing what God asks of me is religion. Just because an apple has a designation of its own does not mean that it is no longer a fruit. Likewise, because our religion includes the glorious privilege of having an intimate relationship with our Creator, makes it no less a religion. I delight in doing God’s will, and my sweet relationship with Jesus makes doing God’s will as delicious to me as a sweet, crisp apple. God also commands me to have a relationship with the body of Christ, His church. We worship and praise Him together and individually. Also, I am to relate the things of God to the world. I must obey Him and do these things religiously.
While both of the images above have true statements, they each also have a false statement. If you’ve had a relationship with Christ for any length of time, then He has taught you, just as He has taught me: things that are only partially true are meant to deceive. Because they are not completely true, they are false. Whenever the truth is mixed with a lie, the entire message becomes false. That’s a tactic of the devil: mixing truth with error in order to make it sound plausible.
So let’s see if we can discover what the enemy is hoping to accomplish by getting Christians to deny their religiosity.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. ( James 1:26-27 NIV)
In these verses James reminds us that our expression of love towards others, practicing self-control, and striving to live pure lives IS our religion. Yet too often today, Christians hope to fit in with a world which God has commanded that we separate ourselves from. Yes, we are to witness to the world, but we are different and separate from those outside of Christ. There should be a huge distinction perceived through the love we have for one another within the body of Christ. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35 KJV
Are we willing to be Christ’s followers, and have we counted the cost? Will we be obedient to Him? If so, then the following will be true of us.
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19 NIV
Again, I understand the love which compels you and I to make the gospel as attractive as possible. But God’s word does not need that kind of assistance. People will believe or they will not, and trying to blend in with them does not help our cause. But that’s what the enemy would have us do: attempt to dull the sharpness of the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Now I can already hear someone coming back with something Paul said concerning winning souls. I’ll save that for when someone brings it up.
It is my prayer that your relationship with the Savior of the world will grow closer and more intimate every day. His love is sweeter than any apple. God Bless You!