Most of us think religion is simply belief in a god. Perhaps we have it right, but clarity is gained by looking at the actual definition (according to Merriam-Webster).
- the belief in a god or in a group of gods
- an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
- an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group
The last definition is particularly thought-provoking. What interest, belief, or activity is most important to me? Could that be my god and my religion?
I grew up believing in God. But after having an abortion in 1987, something changed. I began to question His existence. Suddenly, I found myself proposing, “Maybe you just die when you die; you close your eyes, and it’s all over.”
You see, I needed to believe that I, and everyone else, was random, temporary, and eternally insignificant. If I didn’t believe in the Creator of life, I also wasn’t ultimately accountable to Him for the abortion or anything else, then or ever. I had plans for my life. I was out to accomplish the American Dream, and I couldn’t be slowed down by guilt.
The human psyche is amazing. And I’m not sure I mean that in a good way. We have an uncanny ability to deny the truth when our gods (whatever is most important) are threatened. The weeping prophet explained it this way, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9).
It’s one thing to walk away from God and choose the road of sin in a quest to satisfy the flesh. But far more disconcerting is the number in our churches, including leadership, who are hijacking the faith, convinced and convincing others they can do whatever their deceitful hearts desire.
Human beings are fickle, able to distort the truth and actually believe it. But we are repeatedly warned against deception in Scripture. One example is found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
As believers, these qualities are not foreign to our hearts, but when we grasp the reality of Christ’s immense love for us, we are compelled to throw off the old weight of sin and walk worthy of the calling we have received. Compromise with sin is grossly inconsistent with the teachings of Christ and the whole of Scripture.
Have you been bewildered as you’ve watched denomination after denomination cave in response to worldly pressure? On homosexuality, many have completely capitulated and have made public and written declarations of agreement. On sex outside of marriage and abortion, the church is shockingly silent, and therefore complicit.
As a child, I wanted to know the “why” behind every decision. This was to the dismay of my parents, I assure you. But the funny thing is, I’m still asking why. Why, why, why? Why are denominations as a whole and many who are attending houses of worship folding on issues clearly identified in Scripture as sin?
Just as I molded an unbelieving philosophy around my selfish desires, many are molding a religion around innate sinful desires and calling it Christianity. In a compromising religion of convenience, there is no need for the blood of Christ. There are no testimonies of transformed lives, nor is there evidence of love for Christ or love for our neighbors who are being pacified to death (and eternal destruction). Another god, or group of gods, is being worshipped in our churches. And we must speak up.
(Editor's Note: This blog was posted on The Stand in March of 2015. It continues to be important and relevant.)