Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Losing My Religion

I know a lot of religious people and for the most part they're no fun to be around. Not to mention that some of them are flat out weird. They use words that many people don't understand and they think that anything that resembles fun is sin. I used to be a very religious person. If you knew me back then, I'm sorry. Really, I mean that.

Often times religious people think that they are superior to others who aren't quite as "sold out" as they are to their faith. The sad reality is that according to the apostle Paul, many of these people are actually "sold in" to slavery and they don't even realize it.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Galatians 4:8-11

Through Christ, God fulfilled the requirements of the Law and as a result He gave all of those who would believe in Him, the right to become sons and daughters of God. Heirs to the promise that was originally made to Abraham. This means that we have been adopted into the family.

I know some people who have adopted children and those children are a part of their family just as their biological children are. The adopted children are not required to do specific things in order to maintain their status as family members. They are simply a part of the ______________ family.

Family relationships are based on love, not law. I love my children and they are my children because of who they are and there is nothing that can change that. They have no need of proving themselves in order to be accepted as a family member. Family relationships are based on love.

Religion on the other hand is based on law. IF you do certain things, then you will be accepted. In this system there is an inherent need to work in order to feel loved and accepted. It is burdensome and unfulfilling and in the end it leads to destruction, rather than life.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

So what does this mean? Does this mean that a person can be a family member and live however they desire? Well, not exactly.

The relationship is founded in love. Although one receives love and is accepted on the basis of love, there is also an expectation that love would be reciprocated in the relationship.

I love my kids and accept them, period. As a result, they have the freedom to be themselves and to enjoy the things that bring them joy and happiness. However, if they truly love me, they will desire to live within the boundaries that I have given them. If they choose to step outside those boundaries, there is no love lost, but there are consequences. These consequences are also based in love. Because I love them, I have given them boundaries that are ultimately in their best interest, whether they fully realize it or not.

I know this is a human example and can break down, particularly if parents are overbearing etc. But our heavenly Father is perfect and His love and Law are perfect.

All that to say, our obedience is based in love. Jesus said "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching" John 14:23. We love Him because He first loved us. It is not burdensome and it is not an issue of measuring up in order to be accepted. It is actually the freedom we have in knowing that we are loved - period! As a result, those of us who are family members and know that we are loved, honor Him because we love Him and have come to know His love.

The Law no longer hangs over our head and we are not a slave to religion. Therefore, we should live within the freedom of God's love and share this "good news" with any and all who will listen!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23