Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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What is Your Religion?


Earlier in history one’s religion was associated with their ethnic group, region, or tribal identity. In today’s mobile society people are often disconnected from past associations and come to see themselves more in terms of education, career, or special interest. In past generations people might have more identified as Lutheran or Catholic. Today even distinctions of Christian or Muslim are beginning to disappear. .

As technology and prosperity advance, so does consumerism such that one sees themselves less as a Lutheran or Catholic and more in terms of their favorite sports team, TV program, or leisure activity. When what we consume identifies us more than what we believe, have not we changed to a “religion” of consumption.

A “religion” often requires one to be willing to sacrifice money, time, and even one’s life because the belief is held that something is worth more than self. Consumerism is an interesting belief system in that the priority of self is at the core. This is what makes it so attractive to our baser selves. The problem with “self” as a “religion” is that it is a hunger that is never satisfied. One becomes compelled to seek after more and more frequent things to consume. Like alcoholism there is a self-destructive spiral where one ends up consuming oneself.

Often called “materialism” the consumptive life is the elevation of self and what self can acquire to consume. Similar to the concept of a “black hole”, the materialistic life is a sort of ultimate darkness. Because serving self feels good. this path can often be observed to elevate emotions and sensations that stimulate self. Perhaps most significant is the distortion wrought by seeing “truth” as whatever gets one what one wants, makes one feel good, or sustains comfort.

The idea that truth could be absolute and unchangeable brings often unwelcome light into the darkness of consumptive self-gratification. Most people do not think of themselves as similar to drug addicts or alcoholics however, they take such pleasure in their less obvious comforts that their reluctance to welcome truth is not always discerned. Even people who attend church regularly can place more trust in their social position, education, retirement account, or vacation home such that their “true” religion is materialism more than faith in their professed Savior.

We can draw a valuable lesson from the kingdom gospel offered to the nation of Israel. Jesus highlighted the notion of faith that they should have known all along (John 8:24). The nation had so focused in on law keeping that they needed to be told the importance of faith. James writes those of Israel to describe the importance of faith. He describes it further with an example;

Jas 1:27 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.

The gospel of grace that was offered to gentiles is different in that once a person trusts in Jesus and his death on the cross for our sins, he is sealed by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. For us the difference is that we do not need to show works to prove our faith. However, we can be mistaken that we even have saving faith. For this reason it can be a good idea to reflect on one’s life to consider what religion we have actually been following, God or mammon (Matt 6:24).


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