GodReflection: Power Words

aboutreligion2This is a power word I want to get right.

Religion blares at me. It is on the airways. It lines the streets of my city with billboards and church signs.

Merriam-Webster defines religion and so does God.

religion1Webster identifies religion as “an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods.”

That is not God’s definition.

Religion is universal to every people and every culture identified throughout history.

Old Testament Scripture describes the practice of religion in nation after nation across multiple millenniums.

New Testament Scripture describes a religion that crucified Jesus and persecuted his followers.

Churches today construct systems to define who is in their religion and who is out.

I repeat, this is a power word I want to get right.

religion8As a Christ follower, when I consider the tenor of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation I would conclude that true religion begins with the heart of God. What does God communicate to me that He values?

Through the prophet Micah, God paints one of the most startling contrasts in all of Scripture.

religion12He overdoes an outlandish worship scene with gifts of ten thousand rivers of olive oil, thousands of rams, year-old calves, and even the gift to God of the first-born child. What a great worship assembly.

The back-story is of a people acting as if God did not exist outside of church. Their evil packed week invalidated worship.

religion14God reveals His heart to the people: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all include the answer to the question placed before Jesus as to the greatest commandment:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

That just might be the religion God wants me to follow.

religion20I think about Jesus parable of the Good Samaritan, the inclusion in the Gospels of final judgment where those who feed, clothed, visited, and provided cold water—an imitation of the heart of God—received the “well done.”

The New Testament Letters are replete with encouragement to be Jesus in my world. James the brother of Jesus says it this way: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Sounds like that could be God’s definition of religion as a word to power my life. It doesn’t sound much like Merriam-Webster’s definition to me.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Religion


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