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is religion useless?

True religion….

Oops! Not the jeans – however they’re great jeans.  Today why don’t we see what God says is religion in its truest.  Many argue and have opinions of what “religion” looks like and how it should play out in society.   God has something to say about it too.

Let’s start with what true religion ISN’T.  It’s the final woe in Isaiah 5.  God has some major issues with this one.  And not to sound repetitive from this week’s other blogs, but these are His very own people doing these awful things:

You line your pockets with bribes from the guilty while you violate the rights of the innocent” (Isaiah 5:23)

Money talks too much.  It’s power actually empowered these “God-followers” to permit wickedness – to the innocent’s expense!   There’s much of this in our world today.  The horrible things Egypt is presently going through comes to mind.   God is very clear all the way through the Psalms how He WILL vindicate the innocent.  He will judge leaders who act wickedly to the people they govern.    However, that isn’t where I want  our attention to reside.  I want it to be personal.

Not many of us get paid to let wickedness run wild in our society (at least I hope not).   So then, let’s find out what true religion IS and we will see our part written out clearly:

“Anyone who sets himself up as ‘religious’ by talking a good game is self-deceived.  This kind of religion is  hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father is this:

Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight and guard against corruption from the godless world.

(James 1:26-27)

In other words, we can say we’re “religious” all we want.  We can attend church every week.  We can read the Bible.   Here, God lays out what He expects from people who claim to follow Him.  It’s the proof.   It’s the opposite from the woe we hear about in Isaiah 5.

James 1 fights hyper-consumerism, it declares war on corruption, and it conquers my arch enemy: my SELF.

Those who truly have a heart after God care about people and can’t be bribed to make someone suffer.  They can’t pass by someone in need and not respond.  They can’t ignore the cries of those who have no hope.   They want to be “Jesus” to a world in need.

The question isn’t whether to give or not to give to the homeless person, or how much time to volunteer.   A Christ-follower can’t ignore a need.   We need to realize that yes, it’s great to give money or  a coffee or lunch – but what about a simple smile?

At the end of the day after the debate of whether to give or not to give is this:

Do You Care?

– Kids, do you care about the girl who just got teased for wearing glasses?  Can you stand up for her?

– High school students, can you sit with the lonely kid sitting by himself at lunch?

– Young adults, could you think of something you could do to help someone in need with the time and money you have? (no matter what you think, you’re richer than the rest of us)

– Married couples, are you saving hard for your next vacation?  Can you include sponsoring a child in your budget too?

– Families, do you see where you and your kids can help in the school your child attends?  Is there a family who can’t afford lunches each day?  Can you donate to help with that?

These are just ideas off the top of my head getting us thinking about:

What does caring LOOK LIKE?

Ask anyone if they want to help people in need and everyone will say an enthusiastic, “YES”! But there’s got to be feet to the words.

I do find that society in general is very altruistic.   Yet we are also lured by an insane sense of consumerism and debt.   These two mind-sets don’t seem to match up.   If I may be frank, could it be that we like to give AND get what we want.  We’ll give money but spend money we don’t have on the things we want as well.  As long as in the end we get what we want, we have no problems with generosity.  I’m the first to admit guilt in this area!

What if we were generous to the point of not being able to afford the little “extras” we were looking forward to?  What if we gave till it hurt?…. and then gave some more?  What if Starbucks became a “treat” and not a daily ritual?…….

But how can I possibly live out this “true religion”?  I can’t generate this kind of compassion.  Maybe I could, but it would only last a day or a week at tops.   My only hope is through a relationship with the One who IS compassion – getting God’s very heart for humanity.

Religion is useless in itself.  A list of do’s and don’ts and a belief in God will not change the world, but taking on God’s cause and living out His heart will!   We can’t save the world from corruption and greed, but we can keep ourselves from corruption and greed and see that example ripple into others around us.

This is true religion.  Any takers?

  1. February 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    You have one more fan – Martha has asked me to print off your messages for her Mom — Grandma Vainio — Good message — keep going!
    Love dad and mom too!

    Here’s another one for Ben — afgter 2010 – What number comes after 39? — 2020 – Sooo Cute – he likes to keep things going – love and blessings!

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