Hold the Religion, Please


I’ll take a heaping helping of faith…Hold the religion, please.

With apologies to you atheists who might be reading and think that this is either all about you, or that I have decided to turn on my Lord and the Shepherd of my soul this is not the topic for tonight.

Rather, this is for you religious folks out there. You know who you are. Maybe you’re the ones who think I have gone over to the dark side and turned on my Master. This may go a long way to convince you that your religiosity is more important than any act or belief in my system of faith.

This may come as a surprise to you, but one of the reasons David was called a man after God’s own heart is that he was anything but religious. Adulterous, murderous, idolatrous at times and just downright wicked absolutely, but to think that religion made him anything close to what God made him to be is an egregious mistake.

Like the laws of men and nations, religion is more often a hiding place for the disobedient or misguided souls who think their actions in this life carry weight with God for the good of His kingdom.

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Galatians 3:10

This is not to say that our deeds are without merit or unnecessary,  but to think that these have anything to do with coming to salvation in Christ is a terrible error, to be resolutely avoided. This was the dividing line between religion and faith with Jesus and the Pharisees, whose religion led to murder, torture and unjust punishment for centuries. The spirit of the Pharisee’s religion lives today!

This dividing line is shown in Luke 19 in the Parable of the Minas. You may not know it, but this was a prophecy of Jesus going to His Father in heaven to be given His kingdom and leaving his house in the charge of three servants to whom he gave 10, 5, and one mina each with instructions to “do business until I come”.

It was common practice during the Roman rule of Palestine in Jesus’ time for the man desiring to be king to go to Rome to stake his claim and receive his kingdom from the emperor. Every Jew of the time knew it. Herod Archelaus went through this process during the reign of Augustus with many who were opposed to him in close pursuit but to no avail. He became their king. There is no record of what became of those who opposed him, but I think he likely had them executed. This too was common practice of that time.

So what has this to do with religious spirits, you ask? Here’s what: Jesus returned to His Father the Creator of everything to stake His claim on His kingdom and He left mankind to “do business until I come”. We know His business. We know that His business has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with faith!

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

I’m trying to do His business and religious spirits always seem to get in the way. They are the ones who focus on religious law and devious questioning like the pharisees did with Jesus, thereby diverting His purpose to unimportant issues and affairs of the church which have nothing to do with acting out in faith. They’re the ones who have one mina when the Master returns. I don’t want to be that one.

“And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’  (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’

Luke 19:24-27

I would rather go the way of David in this life, warts and all because what is in my heart is what God sees all the time.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
         Try me, and know my anxieties;
  And see if there is any wicked way in me,
         And lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

Forget the religion, dear friends. Take the relationship. Nothing else matters.

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4 thoughts on “Hold the Religion, Please

  1. Hi Scott,

    Religion certainly can bog us down. Remember what James wrote, James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

    • I agree completely, Leon. I think the greatest point here is the spirit in which we do these things. Do we do so out of love for the God who has spared us deserved condemnation through His only Son Jesus? Or do we do so out of a sense of duty and legalism which leads us to the condemnation we wish to avoid?

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