Sep 012016 2 Responses

If You’ve Tried Religion and It Didn’t Work

In my hometown, the most common barrier between someone and God is religion. It’s not true everywhere. In many places, ignorance of the message of Jesus prevents people from having a personal relationship with God. But where I’m from, people are familiar with the message but many our foreigners to its meaning.

It’s sadly ironic that religion can prevent people from coming to God. The very intention of religion is to know God, yet for many that is the very thing which keeps them from having what they desire.

How Religion Gets It Wrong

There are many ways in which religion can hinder a relationship with God, but there is one which stands above the rest.

At its worse, religion can give us a false sense of security.

The knowledge that one is right with God is one of the great gifts of religion. Knowing the answers to the great questions of life:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • Is there a God?
  • Does He love me?
  • Am I right with Him?

can bring tremendous peace. Life is hard enough. Without the answers to these questions, it can be unbearable. Religion is important because it can bring us those answers. (See: What I Mean When I Say ‘You’re a Sinner’)

However, it is dangerous if it gives us a false security. If our path is not the right one, we will feel a false peace which will prevent us from finding the real answer.

Where I’m from, this is a common problem. Rather than trusting the words of Jesus regarding eternal life, people of religion create their own way. Even within Christianity, people can miss the message of Christ.

A Baptist can think that because they repeated a prayer one time, they never have to worry about their salvation again.

A Catholic can believe that since they were born into the right family, they are right with God.

A Methodist can believe that because they went through confirmation, they are assured a place in heaven.

A Charismatic can believe that because they had an emotional experience in the past, their future is secured.

A Presbyterian can believe that because they know the right answers, they have all they need.

A member of the Churches of Christ can believe that because they were baptized, everything is okay.

While these are all good things, they do not match with the words of Jesus regarding how we experience a relationship with God. (See: Don’t Tell Me Every Religion Is the Same)

How Can Religion Get It Right

Religion gets it right when it correctly communicates our problem and points us to the true solution.

The dangers of religion can be seen in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. He was a powerfully religious man. The type of person others turned to for answers. Yet when Nicodemus came to Jesus to talk about salvation, Jesus pointed out a major problem–Nicodemus didn’t know God. The teacher of religion, knew nothing about God.

His problem?

He thought salvation came by doing everything right. Jesus said he came by being born again. The two ideas couldn’t have been more different.

For Nicodemus, a relationship with God was the end result of much hard work and human striving. Salvation was something we earned.

For Jesus, a relationship with God was a completely new way of life. Salvation was something we were given.

Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again. It’s a metaphor for a completely new way of life. It had a beginning point where one radically encountered God, but it never ended. Being a follower of Jesus would change everything.

When You’ve Tried Religion

The danger of Christianity is when people wrongly assume a one-time experience can replace a life of following Jesus.

“I’ve done that” and “I’ve tried that” are common responses I get when I talk to people about faith.

While talking to someone who clearly is not a follower of Jesus, they mention a past experience where they walked an aisle, said a prayer, or got baptized. They tried it and either it didn’t work or they assume that because of that experience, everything is okay. They couldn’t be more mistaken.

The way of Jesus is more than just a one time experience. It is a way of life. It can begin in a moment, but it continues through a process of transformation.

If you think you’ve tried Christianity and it didn’t work, I would encourage you to try again. But instead of just trying it, truly make a decision to follow him. Not just to say one prayer or jump through one hoop, but to commit to live your life in total response to God’s love for you.

 

 

2 Responses to If You’ve Tried Religion and It Didn’t Work
  1. Monica Book Reply

    Kevin, I was raised a Catholic, later had a salvation experience; became a Christian and was immersed to have my sins forgiven. Spent 17 intense years in home based churches; left those and my marriage of almost 20 yrs; remarried for the last 15 yrs. basically I am a 58 yr old woman with 5 grown children, 2 stepchildren and I have been to many different churches over these 15 yrs but I’m stuck in many ways and don’t really know what to do.. Could you offer any advice?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I would find a good local church and get involved. Attend Sunday worship, volunteer, involve yourself in some type of small group discipleship. If you want to tell me where you live, I can recommend a church.

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