It has been estimated that there are forty-three hundred religions throughout the world. This does not necessarily include cults. sects, or individuals that have developed their own idea about spiritual life.
We can assume that the benefits of religion result in the development of community life, local ethics and morality. The standards of various religions easily conflict with other religions. The history of a particular religion could include violent behavior. The idea of morality would then be in conflict with the persons who reinterprets their own religious standards. During the Crusades and in the Salem witch trials this was true of those who professed to be Christians. The origin of Islam depended on the sword and today the Taliban and Isis want nothing more than to kill those they call heretics.
The truth is that a person can be ethical and moral without practicing any religion. That person could adopt the general consensus of the community without having any religion. Such individuals might think of themselves and those around them as being good.
If we are to agree that someone would be moral and ethical and community minded, without having a religion, then what good is religion? Why cooperate with rituals and expected behavior when anyone can at the end result be just like a religious person?
On the other hand, religious people can do the most dastard deeds in the name of religion. They could cheat and lie and even shed blood. They would either do this as someone who is living out a double standard privately or they make excuses to ignore the principles of their own religion by what they could call the greater good. The history of religion has demanded compliance from a potential convert. If that individual is not willing to comply, most likely it would mean death.
It is vitally important for us to understand that anyone could call themselves religious. But that does not mean they truly are religious. I can call myself a goat, but that does not make me a goat. I can call myself good, but my behavior might indicate to the contrary. There is always some inkling of “badness” within us. We have two issues: what does religion accomplish? How are those affected around us by our religion?
Every religion in the world requires the person to do rituals that will appease their god. Every religion in the world has certain items or animals that they considered sacred. What do these accomplish?
In comparison, only Christianity has God coming to man for redemption while all the other religions have man seeking God’s beneficence. What really is the purpose of Christianity versus other religions?
Only Christianity addresses the alienation of mankind from the creator. There is a distance between humans and God caused by man’s sinful nature and sinful behavior.
We must stop and remind ourselves that we are talking about somebody that calls himself a Christian and does anti-Christian things. A person that is a follower of Christ obeys the Scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit. That person who becomes a true Christian demonstrates that new birth only done by God.
We now are not talking about Christianity as a religion. We are talking about Christianity as an experience and a relationship with God. Complying to the demands of a religion and performing rituals can never address the sin problem. Jesus did not come to start a new religion. He did not come to reform the Jewish religion. He did not come as an example for improved ethics and morals. Jesus was born so that he could be the ultimate sacrifice for sin. Because we are all under the condemnation or the consequences of sin, there is a problem for how to heal our relationship with God. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament laws in which they shed blood as part of the repentance for sin. However, animal blood was insufficient because it is the human that has the sin problem and not the animal. It would take a perfect human to shed his blood as a remediation for our sin so that we might have a relationship with God here and in eternity.
When a person becomes a true biblical Christian, there must be a change internally and externally. A person’s attitude and goals must be altered to be in compliance with what God expects.
If there is no new creation activity within a person, that person can say they are Christian, but they are not. It does not matter if the person is the local plumber or is the head of a religion like the Pope. Their title and duties or of no effect. There must be a change accomplished. Yes, Christian belief does include certain rituals such as communion and baptism, but they are symbolic and represent the conversion process that those who partake have experienced.
Jesus said in essence that we will know people by their fruits. Hateful language, vicious behavior, and the shedding of other people’s blood is not Christian.
Christianity is not a club or organization to join. Being a member of the church has no value toward a spiritual conversion. The healing of the soul is accomplished through faith in Christ Jesus while accepting his substitutionary punishment each of us would deserve without him. The Bible teaches that we are all under condemnation. Jesus took that condemnation on himself in our behalf. Therefore, when we ask Jesus to make us that new creation, we incorporate his substitution for ourselves so that we do not have to face spiritual punishment.
Becoming a Christian means to become a part of God’s family and behaving in that way which complies to God’s expectations. A real Christian has a heart that seeks to do God’s will. A real Christian does not need to campaign as evidence of their goodness. A real Christian has a concern for others who remain under condemnation without Jesus. Forget the idea that Christianity is a religion because it is living a life as God’s child and demonstrating God’s love.
Let me emphasize again that Christianity does not exist to be one of the other religions. Only Christianity addresses the alienation that mankind has from God because of sin. Being a Christian is to be God’s representative on earth.
There is no wonder that many people have left the church because of the behavior of leaders and members that is discomfiting.
This is why there was a major conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day. At the beginning and at the end of his ministry he was thoroughly disgusted with religion and the impression that was falsely imposed on followers. They turned religion into a moneymaking proposition. They created many demands and obligations and laws on their fellow countrymen that even they did not always obey. Jesus was not a religious person. He did not come to reform religion. He objected to religion because it stood in the way between a person serving God and what they were told to do so that they could be a good person.
Because Jesus was at such odds with the religious leaders, they feared his influence would grow too great they would lose their jobs. They developed a plan to murder him thinking that would put an end to the reason he was ministering and healing. Ultimately, they manipulated the non-Jew governor, Pilate, to authorize the crucifixion of Christ.
They thought that crucifixion would be an end to the matter. They were so wrong! Three days later Jesus was resurrected conquering death. Jesus accomplishes two things. He became the substitution for our sins and conquered death so we will have the promise of eternal life with him.
Anyone that focuses on being religious is misinformed. Religion that demands a person seek God will assure that that person will never find him. Christianity has Christ seeking man to solve the ultimate problem and offer the ultimate promise.
Throw away the idea that you may have about Christianity. Throw away the ideas you may have about being a good person. Ask Christ to come into your life and ask him to help you live a godly life much different than what you used to live. Let God make you a new creation as his child.