Friday, June 28, 2019

Practicing Genuine Religion

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The apostle James stated, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (1:27). According to UNICEF, there are 151 million orphans(defined as a child who has lost a mom, dad, or both) worldwide.[1]Implementing a precise application of a biblical-based religion is an essential component of what Christianity is all about. Seeing God’s people apply it biblically is crucial to the testimony of the Gospel’s truth. John Newton explained, “Religion to a true believer is like water to a fish: it is his element, he lives in it, and he could not live out of it.

Allow me to provide critical principles in practicing genuine religion that pleases God daily. First, the precise application of a biblical-based religion is not an external fa├žade. It radiates from personal testimony of God’s mercy received. God declared, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Therefore, outward religion without heartfelt action is of no interest to our God.

Next, the precise application of a biblical-based religion is an application of God’s concern for implementing justice, mercy, and knowledge of God. Prophet Amos exclaimed, “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24). Therefore, outward religion without spiritual fruit in our lives becomes a mere formality.

Lastly, the actual application of a biblical-based religion sees one’s genuine faith-in-action. It is not an empty religion of legalism that the religious leaders n Jesus’ time showed: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others” (Matthew 23:23). Therefore, outward religion without authentic compassion for the downcast, the outcast, and those needing God’s forgiveness is hypocrisy before God. D. Thomas added, “To attain religion should be the supreme aim of our life. It is not a means to an end; it is the grand end of being; it is the Paradise of soul.”

Listen to Jesus’ description of practicing false religion and its consequence:

Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for pretense make long prayers.  They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:45-47)

Basically, the religion that the religious leaders practiced comes from purely showing off luxuries and exhibiting religious appearances, albeit, superficial in nature. Jesus gave an excellent picture for all of us to remember as we implement a precise application of a biblical-based religion. Keep our focus on serving others genuinely and be mindful of how God sees our personal objectives in doing them. Finally, let God be glorified as we serve those in need.

Let’s talk again!