It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts Him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting Him really lives.” (MSG)
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (NLT)
“You’re very religious”
It’s the statement I almost hate to hear. To me, it means the person doing the talking has a preconceived notion of my spiritual life. I don’t consider myself very religious. In fact, if you’ve read my blog—you know I have a distaste for rules and ritual. That’s what I think of when I hear the word religious—rules, regulations and the mindless following thereof.
I’m not religious—depending on how you define that term.
•If religious is going to church a lot—I’m pretty religious.
•If religious is owning and reading a Bible, at least occasionally—I’m pretty religious.
•If religious is believing in God—I’m pretty religious. I’ll go one step further and tell you I believe Jesus is the Son of God—I guess that makes me really religious.
•If religious is putting money in the offering, giving to charity and trying to be nice—I suppose I’m religious—except for the times my selfishness and pride get the best of me.
As you read this, I bet you’re comparing yourself and your level of religiousness to mine. That’s ok. If the tables were turned, I’d be doing the same thing.
There’s the problem with religion. It’s the very thing that makes us religious folks so annoying to the non-religious folks.
My religion can’t be about me.
When my religion is about me, the outcome is likely to become a comparison game—me-against-you or me against who I used to be or who I should be. When my religion is about me, my focus is often on my failure to be good enough, my struggle to be holy or my failure to meet God’s standard. When my religion is about me, I can look at someone else and be as good or better than he or she is, enveloping myself in lukewarm mediocrity.
You see, for all my good traits, I’m a poor god to serve.
You are, too.
Paul, the one who in his life before Christ was RELIGIOUS (so religious he killed Christians)—wrote a dissertation about the core concept of this new religion. This new religion has at the very center the concept of grace. The Good News of the Gospel of Christ is about God’s power. Christianity is about God’s undeserved, saving grace for humanity. It’s about God and His plan. It’s about God and His righteousness. It’s about God and His seeking love that draws me away from the lesser ritual and into a full relationship with Him.
•Did God do all the work? Yes.
•Does He deserve all the glory? Yes.
•Is God’s love, grace and favor lavished on anyone who will accept it? YES!
•Does God offer a life of freedom in exchange for faith? Yes.
•Does God’s plan make sense to religious people? Probably not.
I’m Not That Religious
Join me and wade through God’s message of grace Paul wrote about in Romans. If you dare, abandon your religion for something more. Quit trying to be good enough—you’ll never impress the One who made everything out of nothing. Put your short, little arms down—they will never reach God. Stop trying to find some ethereal god who is more vapor than substance.
By faith, accept God’s grace and let Him take care of the rest—start to finish.
Father, thank You for loving me before I knew I needed Your love. Remind me as I’m tempted to put You into my own terms, to make You small enough to understand, to limit You by relying on my weakness, that You love me with perfect love and Your plan and provision for me is Your righteousness. Father, burn that into my feeble heart. Let my faith and my trust in Your goodness grow in response to Your love. Help me keep my eyes on You.