Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How Is Your Religion?

According to the online dictionary, being religious means of, or relating to, or concerned with religion; a pious, devout, godly person; a member of a religious order or congregation; and one who is in accordance with the principles of a religion.

And what is religion? Religion is any formal or institutionalized expression of a belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny; it is the practice of sacred rituals, rites and ceremonies as observed by the religious institution.

Whoa, brain freeze right? I first needed to pause and ponder on those meanings before I could continue with this post. Those are big words! But ok, I guess my pondering has to stop sooner or later. Now it's time for me to tackle on my very own "religiosity." 

"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." -James 1:26-27

I was raised in the Catholic religion. Growing up, I was surrounded by very deeply religious people. My grandmothers, aunts, cousins, relatives, teachers, classmates, my neighbors and my playmates' families, they were all religious. I felt so inadequate in my own religiosity as I compared myself to them. It seemed like they were always in church, they were praying day and night, they follow different traditions and rites and they attend every ritual and ceremony required of them. But not me (oops), I was too lazy to be in church all the time, I fall asleep as I recite the prayers given by the church. I just wanted to climb trees and play with my "slingshot team" rather than go to any rituals. It was always too hot to be in any kind of ceremony. Yup, that was me. No wonder I felt so inadequate and undeserving of God's blessings. I was doomed.

Fast forward to when I was almost 21 years old. I worked at a DHL branch in my hometown. I met a lot of people who come in to send their mails and packages to anywhere around the world. Through that receiving counter, I met a young pastor named Mike. One day, just out of the blue, he asked if anybody would like to have a home bible study. I don't remember now but I think I was the only one who raised my hand and I was so excited I said, "Me, me, me!" It was one of the greatest decisions I've made in my life. It was in one of those bible study sessions where I began to read the Bible and learn about God's plan of salvation very clearly and understood it for the first time. That's also where I finally made the greatest decision of my life --trusting in what Jesus has done for me on the cross to save me and to accept Him as my Lord and Savior.

As I've said, I understood God's plan of salvation in one of those studies but I did not totally and completely grasp it yet at that time. God was not done with me. You know how you understand something but then an a-ha! moment comes and it helps you to understand it more deeply and clearly than before? That's how the reality of my salvation came upon me. I knew I had to trust and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior but my sinful nature still has to catch up with my new self and of what I already knew in my soul. I was already a new creation through the cleansing power of Jesus' blood yet at the same time I was still being renewed and being sanctified starting with my mind, my thoughts and then with my heart and my deeds. I'm a work in progress. I should carry a sign with me that says: "BEWARE of falling debris -- STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION!"

As God continues to teach me, mold me, renew me, test me, restore and purify me with His power by His Word and Spirit, the more I understand that my religiosity or the lack of it, has nothing to do with His plan of salvation. There's nothing wrong with being religious but the question is, to what and for whom is our religiosity focused on? God said being religious doesn't give me any merit for His salvation. Just like any government laws, rules and regulations, all persons are required to follow those laws at all times but we know that we can't always follow them and sometimes we just simply don't. But I'm sure that there's someone out there (maybe it's you) who follows all these rules at all the time? Then an accident happens, maybe by human error or negligence and make you break the law. Despite your perfect record or spotless past history with the government, it doesn't excuse you from paying the fine, a ticket or facing the consequences of your actions. There may be some rewards the government might give to mitigate the punishment but it doesn't really erase the fact that you broke the rule.

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." -Isaiah 64:6

My point is, being religious doesn't give me any special place with God, especially if I only want to be called "religious" in order to gain points from Him. If we're hoping that by lighting hundreds of candles or by walking on our knees to the altar and by flogging ourselves that it will allow us access in His presence but the truth is it's all pointless according to God. He says in the Scriptures that salvation is only by faith. Faith in Jesus Christ alone. And that His salvation is free and is only given by His grace. Grace is a gift or favor that no one deserves.

Looking back to my childhood, I'm still the same girl. I'm still too lazy to go to church but now I do it anyway because I love God. I still fall asleep when I meditate and pray but not as much as before since my prayer is now a conversation with a Person.. I still don't follow traditions and rites or rituals primarily because I'm still a stubborn sinner but more so because I really don't have to. But there are traditions I love to follow because they're heart-warming, they're lovely and they're not against God's commands. Traditions like celebrating birthdays, some holidays and especially Christmas, having baby dedications and house dedications, and remembering the life of loved ones who have passed away, going on a date on Valentine's day and counting the years on anniversaries. 

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." -Matthew 5:16

It becomes pleasing to God when we do good works and if we become "religious" for Him. When we produce great deeds and when we try hard to be blameless in our speech and actions. These as a result of our salvation. It also becomes easier to do good things not only because we have God's power and guidance but because we do it out of our love for Him. If we're in love with someone we simply can't get enough of that person, right? We want to be with that person all the time and we do beautiful things out of that love. How different should it be when we are in love with God?


  1. I find it amazing what ways God uses to bring us to Him.

  2. Amen! He is always gracious in His dealings with all of us.

  3. Wonderful piece! Refreshing and truthful! There is, I believe, a world of difference between religion on one hand and Christianity on the other. Religion is and can be complicating and complicated, whereas Christianity really boils down to a personal and on-going relationship with our Saviour and Lord, Jesus! It is a divine friendship! He is, as we might say in England, our best mate! I've written a piece about the difference between religion and Christianity on my blog here: http://tchildschristianityblog.blogspot.com/p/difference-between-religion.html feel free to take a look! I'm also going to join your blog on the strength of this one piece!

  4. Tim, thanks for dropping by and for joining. I appreciate your comments as well. I just checked out your blog and you're doing an awesome job on there. Keep it up! Thanks for the support. God be praised always. Take care...


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