Let’s dive in. Shall we?
In Part 1, we discussed the fact that religion has the tendency to focus on outward appearance. “Just follow the rules,” “do the right thing,” “do this,” “say that,” etc. It does not address the inner to outer transformation mandated and desired by God (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Another Problem With Religion:
Religion requires no intimacy and therefore offers no true change. Let me explain.
Religion, generally defined, is a specific set of beliefs and practices concerning purpose for life and deals with the idea of a supreme being or the lack thereof and its (or theirs) relation with humanity. We could add to this definition that religion includes certain rules, regulations, and traditions to be followed.
My fellow “Christianers (check Pt. 1 for definition)” know these all too well. We measure our success and holiness by our ability to “follow the rules” and “look the part.”
This is a problem.
For argument’s sake, let’s say there are indeed a set of rules and traditions to which we are to adhere and God, the Rule Maker, gave us these rules by which to abide. And let’s say adherence to these rules is the means by which we are considered holy.
The Rule Maker’s ONLY requirement would be for you to obey the rules. He wouldn’t need to KNOW you. It wouldn’t matter that you knew Him, but that you knew the rules and followed them. Fortunately, the very premise on which God and man’s relationship is built is the idea of an ongoing, everlasting intimacy. If our relationship with God never extends beyond a set of rules, we’ve missed out on the greatest treasure of knowing HIM. THIS is where true transformation is found.
What if I told you there are no rules?
We understand laws, theories, and rules of this life based upon what we can measure (science). We have a need to understand existence & our limitations. So we call them laws, boundaries, etc. Many would say we have an unconscious understanding of what “ought not to be” and what “should be,” right and wrong, etc. What if I told you God never set any laws?
C.S. Lewis said,
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust (Mere Christianity)?”
We understand ‘do not murder,’ ‘do not steal,’ and ‘do not cheat’ to be laws of some sort. Whether or not we attribute God as the author of these boundaries is in fact important. However, HOW we understand God to be the author may need some adjusting.
God encapsulates every idea of what is right, just, and holy. There are no laws. There is simply God. There is simply His nature. Who He is dictates what “ought to be.” He does not need anyone’s permission or power to exist. He just IS.
The universe and all life in it is simply governed by and according to His nature. God is the very precept for everything ever created and that will ever exist. Any attempt of substitution for relationship with Him is counterfeit, unnatural, and empty.
This is why religion doesn’t WORK! Religion seeks to follow rules for the sake of reaching holiness. “If I’d just do this, then I’ll be alright.” “If I don’t do that, then I’m okay.” Becoming intimate and familiar with GOD is how one reaches holiness. For God’s nature is the boundaries in which we should exist!
How can you say this?
It’s simple really.
If you were an actor hired to play the role of Michael Jackson (I’m a big fan); how would you approach personifying this legend? Would you find it sufficient to have a set of rules to study from with a list of “don’t do this,” and don’t do that?” Would you prefer to have dialogue with him, review his videos, listen to his voice, talk to his fans, and study his mannerisms? My guess is many would choose the latter. No set of rules are going to give you the proper perspective about who Michael Jackson was and his ongoing impact on the world. Rules will not give you the necessary direction.
This universal law, this unconscious understanding of right and wrong, this common nature with God, has historical origins. ”Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…so God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:26a, 27, 28a).”
God created us in HIS image according to HIS nature so that we would know what ‘ought to be’ and what ‘ought not to be.’ If we seek Him, we will find everything we could EVER need. If we seek to KNOW Him, we fulfill the ultimate purpose for our existence.
I leave you with this.
“I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties, and rules, and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Everyone there is filled full with what we should call GOODNESS as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the SOURCE from which it comes (Mere Christianity).”
God IS goodness.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and it has encouraged you!
Please like, comment, and share! I look forward to hearing from many of you!
Over and Out!
Note: I do not own rights to the featured picture.