Published on February 25th, 2014 | by Jeff Price0
Are You A Christian Or Are You Just Religious?
“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun…”, Billy Joel – Only The Good Die Young
Unfortunately, this seems to be the consensus of far too many people today. But, why is that? I offer this explanation; perhaps because most of us so called “Christians” are so religiously minded we are no earthly good!
It’s like the guy who’s witnessing to his friends; “I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t dance, don’t go to movies, don’t read secular books, don’t tell jokes, don’t wear my hair long, don’t listen to any music but old hymns and praise God brother, if you become saved you can be just like me!”
Many of us get too caught up in all the rules and regulations that we believe we need to adhere to in order to be a true Christian. Don’t misunderstand me; as Christians, we need to follow rules. It’s just that following rules is not what’s going to get us into heaven! It’s the principles of Christ we need to focus on, not the rules and regulations. Abide by the principles of Christ and the rules and regulations will follow.
So, what exactly are the concepts of Christ? Now, that’s a pretty complex subject, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, one could spend hours, nay, even weeks contemplating the deep and manifold concepts and philosophies of the one and only Son of God, right? One couldn’t possibly hope broach such a considerable and complex subject in just one short article! Well, i beleive that if we think about it, we will find that the principles of Christ are not really all that complex. In fact, if we think about it carefully, I believe we will find that the principles of Christ are quite simple.
After all, Christ calls us His sheep. Have you ever considered why? Perhaps one reason is that sheep are some of the dumbest animals on the face of the earth! And when the shepherd speaks, its going to have to be in very simple terms. So, God made things simple for us. Matthew 22:37 tells us, “All the law is summed up in this; that you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and that you love your neighbor (not just brother but your neighbor) as yourself. So, with this passage, we see that all of Gods law, all of the rules and regulations, all of the deep and complex concepts of Christ can be summed up in just one word – love. Love! It’s love that we as Christians need to focus on, not all the rules and regulations of religion. And when we as Christians get this simple fact right, that’s when we start becoming true Christians and not just another bunch of Pharisees.
That being said, we know very well that rules are important. They give us certain foot-holds on our faith by helping to define what is expected of us as Christians. Moreover, the extent to which we are able to abide by those rules serves as a mile marker for us that confirms where we are on our path that to God. Still, all those rules and regulations are not what we should be focused on.
What we should be focused on is Jesus! What we should be focused on is His love for us, the blood that He shed for us and the fact that had each one of us been the only one who needed salvation, God would have still sent His Son and Christ would have still sacrificed Himself for just one! And if He loves us that much, it stands to reason that the least we can do is love each other that much! This type of love; its depth, strength and sincerity is what should be in the heart of a Christian. Our hearts should be imitating the heart of Christ!
With the heart of Christ, we have a new ability to love because, as Christians, we are well aware of what love can do. We understand that God loved us so that He sent His only begotten Son to sign His name with His own blood to the sins that you and I committed. And it wasn’t until He signed His name to every one of our sins that He finally said, “It is finished!”
Yes, we Christians know what love can do. We know that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor future nor anything else in all creation can separate me from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Romans 8:38-39. As Christians, we know that love is the most excellent way. We know that without love, all our wisdom, all our faith, all our knowledge, our charity, our sacrifices, all our adherence to all those rules and regulations gains us absolutely nothing! 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
So, can we truly call ourselves Christian if all we are is religious? We know that we’ve become religious when we begin to recite prayers that come from our head and not our hearts. We’ve become too religious when we begin to focus more on how we’re dressed for church rather than the condition or our souls. We’ve become too religious when we begin to believe we can earn our way into heaven by trying to follow rules and regulations instead of trying to love God more and love one another more!
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why – as if you were still alive in the world – do you submit to regulations: “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used) – according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh, Colossians 2:20-23.