After exposure to the truth I ceased calling Christianity my religion. The two couldn’t fit the same box. Every time I had to fill out a form and a part required that I wrote down my religion, the first thing that came to mind was “you are asking the wrong question, I don’t have one”. One time, an acquaintance literally had to beg me to choose one because he needed it for a survey on his project work. Well explaining myself didn’t do any good and definitely he must have thought I was weird because he couldn’t imagine how I could have such a conviction and still claim to have fellowship with my church on Sundays.
In the past, I had heard people say things like “Christianity is not a religion, it is a way of life”. And as clichéd as it was to me, I pretty much couldn’t put meaning to it. With regards to the phrase; “Christianity is not a religion”, the Christianity I grew up knowing didn’t quite look like anything but religion. Even in Religious and Moral Education lessons, it was always first on the list for ‘three main religions in Ghana’. In Sunday school (of which I wasn’t a staunch member), you’d learn things like the 10 commandments as being the moral code we ought to live by in order to please God. It was all about “You” and your performance so keeping score of all your good deeds was inevitable. And the condemnation, it was unprecedented every time I fell short.
Now, unto the second phrase which says ‘it is a way of life’. One word for a way of life is culture. If this particular culture tends to have the same conceptions of what we claim it isn’t, a religion, then it very much is what we say it is not. I know for a second there I left you at sea, but in simple terms this is all I’m trying to say; a culture with a religious mindset is nothing but a religion. Thus the term Religious Christianity or the fancier term Legalism. Religious Christians admit they believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior but contradict themselves with a religious mindset of self-effort and performance orientation. I’m getting ahead of myself but I need to make this submission; Jesus, what he stands for, his accomplished mission and the church he came to establish cannot be put in the same category as dead man-made religions! The differences are way too vast.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. (KJV)
For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God. (NLT)
Religion teaches sinfully bankrupt man to try with all his might as much as possible to seek right standing with God. It says that if he on his own is able to do enough good, then his bad will be outweighed so that heaven will be his prize. You’d realise that all these monotheistic religions (which seem very similar superficially but utterly different at their core) have some sort of moral conduct to live by. It’s all about you and your performance. Their tagline is Do good, get good. Do bad, get beat.
On the other hand, Jesus and all He stands for is the exact opposite of what religion teaches. When religion says justify your inclusion, Jesus says quit trying, I paid for your inclusion. When religion yells ‘you haven’t fully fulfilled the moral code’, softly Jesus says ‘I am the fulfillment of the highest moral code, believe in me and be justified’. When religion laughs at your fear of death due to insecurity in your final destination, Jesus says “have boldness in the day of judgement because you have the same Spirit” (1 John 4:17). I could go on and on because the differences are just too outstanding that I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I could find something Jesus and religion agrees on.
Just think about this; why would Jesus, God in the flesh seek to establish another religion when all He ever stood for was against religion. The religious leaders of his day didn’t like Him very much because He refused to be boxed by their rules and traditions. Jesus was born into a Jewish culture, under the law of Moses. But in verse 4 of Romans 10, the scriptures clearly prove Jesus to be the end (termination) of the law. After His overpayment for sin, the law (moral conduct of the Jewish religion) as far as righteousness is concerned ceased to be of use. He became the only means by which man could attain God’s righteousness, a free gift which cannot be bought by man’s self-effort.
Everyone who believes (places faith) in His finished work on the cross gets to have God live in his spirit. He is also sealed by the Holy Spirit, the guarantee of his inheritance in God. (Ephesians 1:13). He is fired up to live for God perfected in love, having the confidence of right standing with Him, the One who made him so never again to be condemned.
This is the genetic make up of the confidence I have to share the gospel with an unbeliever. If this was meant to be a religion, I wouldn’t be bothered. After all what makes one religion superior to another?
Man, if haven’t made my point known to you, then I guess English is not your first language. In any case, I’m sticking to my guns. The next time someone asks me which religion I belong to, they’ll surely get the same answer; I DON’T HAVE ONE!
Quote: The law is for the self-righteous, to humble their pride; the gospel is for the lost, to remove their despair. – C. Spurgeon.