If a comparison is to be made between following Jesus Christ and Religion, the first logical step is to define the terms, and thus we go back to the basics.
To follow Jesus Christ is to have a relationship with Him, a deep and intimate personal relationship, and then to go where He leads. We have as our example His relationship with the disciples in the Gospels, and the funny thing is that they continually found themselves at odds with the religious authorities of their day because Jesus did not lead them into religious orthodoxy. Quite the contrary in fact, their conflict was so great that the religious authorities set about to kill first Jesus, and later His followers.
Let’s be fair about this, however, for we live in a different time and place, and our contact with religious leaders is not the same as the contact experienced by Jesus and the disciples.
Yet there are similarities.
So then, what is exactly is “religion”?
According to Merriam-Webster “religion” is
“the service or worship of God or the supernatural”, “commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance”, “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices”, “scrupulous conformity”, “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”. (See complete entry)
The word is commonly used to mean the service or worship of God or the supernatural; that is clear enough, but consider the rest of the definition; there is where our problems lie. You can see that “religion” can apply to a great deal more than the worship of God if it requires conformity in our attitudes to an institutionalized system, and if you really think about it, things like atheism or Socialism or Communism or Fascism even can be said to fall into the definition of a “religion”.
But that’s a conversation for another time…
For our purposes today, I’ll simply leave you with a fairly simple question:
What part of following Jesus Christ, or if you prefer, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, can be confined to a man-made religion?
Naturally, I look forward to hearing your thoughts, and I’ll be sharing mine in the next few days- see you tomorrow!