When discussing religion, the root of that religion should be the obvious foundation on which a conversation is established. A religion, when observed from a legal point of view, could be defined as a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God in the lives of other persons. This brings belief as the root of any religion, but such ambiguous language leaves room for almost anything to be recognized as a religion. Even the illegal pirating of information has become recognized and accepted as a religious belief system. Even more frightening than pirating information is the culturally embraced fanaticism of vampirism, which is glorified sexually and masochistically in nearly all forms of media.
More organized institutions of religion such as Catholicism and Mormonism, have also tapped into the power of media, launching huge campaigns to recapture audiences, and to portray a “normality” that isn’t always associated with their beliefs. There has also been an attempt by the Catholic church to cater to the homosexual community, while others who stand firm on the matter have suffered viciously profane attacks. Strong profanities are not the only types of attacks being executed against believers of different faiths. Some countries seem on the brink of religious civil war, while others are being bombed with Molotov cocktails.
Not all beliefs are as violent as the blood sucking vampires and the Islamic extremists. Humanist and atheists have been hard at work to discredit the Christian beliefs while promoting their own. Interviews with fallen Christian leaders, and the ever revealing pedophilia in the Catholic church has been a favorite means of revealing the hypocrisy in organized religion. Anti-Semitic rhetoric is on the rise, while Islamic communities are “exposed” as victims. No one ever seems to question the validity of Islamic beliefs as an organized religion. They instead propagate it as a peaceful culture full of martyrs.
One of the most prominent beliefs in the media today would be the Mayan prophecies regarding 2012. There has been an enormous amount of coverage over the possibility of prophecies being right, and an equal share of reports to prove them wrong. There have even been comparisons between a distant tribe of Hopi Native American beliefs about the end of the world that were apparently influenced by their Mayan neighbors. Many of these prophecies are being compared with modern day events and catastrophes, but with the worst yet to come.
So where does Christianity fit into the element of Religion?
James 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Such a beautiful verse, so why are so many people adamantly professing spirituality, but denying being religious? What has made this word so offensive? Even secular relief organizations view visiting orphans and widows in their affliction as a noble task and time well spent, so why doesn’t anyone want to be associated with religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father? Because a vast majority of the churches today recognize the latter part of this verse as legalistic. John 3:16 has become the seeker sensitive favorite verse, which is portrayed as offering eternal life at the low cost of a simple belief in Jesus. Many fail to read past verse 16 to gain the full picture that Jesus is painting for Nicodemus.
John 3:16-21 “16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
When looking at the entire passage, it reinforces the need to keep oneself unstained from the world by explaining that whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. Does this make Jesus a legalist? He clearly states in the beginning of verse 19 that this is the way you can tell the difference between someone who is born again and someone who is not, by looking at how they react to the Light. How is this relevant to The Perfect Storm? The Apostle Paul says it best in 2nd Timothy 4:1-5.
2nd Timothy 4:1-5 “1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Does this then mean that there is no place for grace? No, but it does mean that the working of grace will be made evident by our reaction to the Provider of it. There can be no gospel without Grace. It is the one fundamental belief that separates Christianity from ALL religions, and it is given freely. Let’s not trust our eternal residence to a prayer we repeated. Let’s deal with it soberly as Paul reiterates in Philippians.
Philippians 2:12-18 “ 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”
Written by Logan Smith, Streams Staff
I will stand on my guard post
And station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me