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The following ad for a local church appeared in the paper and I don't understand what it means:

 

Religion Is a Waste of Time

 

The word "religion" is one of the most misunderstood terms in the English language. People think it's synonymous with "Christianity." But it's not. Religion is all about do's and don'ts and trying to earn God's approval by our behavior. But the Bible says eternal life and true peace have nothing to do with what we do. Rather, it hinges on who we have a relationship with. Namely, Jesus - who, by the way, was no fan of religion either.

 

It seems to me this is saying that you can do whatever you want, lie, cheat, murder, whatever, but as long as you have a relationship with Jesus, it ok. I'm assuming that this can't possibly be right.

 

Any insight would be much appreciated.

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No one with any integrity will say that you can behave badly continually and even have a relationship with Jesus in the first place.

 

What is often said is that many people are "religious," but they don't have a relationship with Jesus. IOW, a Buddist (sp??) might be "religous," but he does not have a relationship with Jesus. See? Christians maintain that it's the Jesus part, and not the religious part, that is important.

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No, you're right--that's not what it's saying. Religion is how people try to get to God (or gods or goddesses or whatever higher power they believe in) what they *do*: good works, doing the right "religious" things, giving money, etc. The point of this ad is that being a Christian isn't based on following a set of rules or rituals--it is having a relationship with Jesus. You can't earn God's favor by doing good things, because nothing we can do is good enough. The only way to know God and be right with Him is to have a personal encounter with Jesus (through prayer) and choose to trust in His death on the cross to pay for your sins and make you right with God and to commit your life to follow and obey Him as a result.

 

So, basically it's saying that we can't earn God's favor/approval by doing good things. The only way we can be in God's favor is through a relationship with Jesus. Many people think they can be "okay" with God if they're good enough, or if they do more good stuff than bad stuff. That's what this is addressing. It does matter how you live after salvation (what we call that encounter with Jesus and trusting His death to pay our debt), but that's not what this ad is talking about. It's talking about how you "get right" with God.

If a person is really a Christian, good behavior (though still not perfect, which would take another post to explain!) will flow out of that relationship--it's the result of salvation, not the cause of it.

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The term religion is often portrayed in a negative light by those who believe it is just a system of rules & traditions that earn you salvation.

 

What this ad is trying to convey is that faith is a relationship (a heart issue) and not a list of dos and don'ts.

 

Best comparison would be parenting. There is the type of parent who just throws out a list of rules and expects immediate obedience regardless of whether the child has an attitude problem underneath. Or there is the parent who builds a relationship with their child and as an extension of that relationship the child engages in behavior that is polite and courteous to those around them.

 

Some churches use the following as an explanation for their beliefs.

 

Rules-based = religion

 

Relationship-based = personal relationship with Jesus

 

Of course not everyone defines the term religion in such a negative light.

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Of course not everyone defines the term religion in such a negative light.

:iagree:

 

...nothing to do with what we do.
And that ad is based on a Protestant Christians understanding of Christianity. I'm not sure where the Orthodox Christians stand on works but for the Catholic Christians good works are a pretty big deal.
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Umm . . [gently] Good works are a pretty big deal for Protestant Christians, as well. Good works are THE way to show our thankfulness for what Christ has done on our behalf.

 

Third Part: Gratitude (qq. 86–129)

 

(of the Heidelberg Catechism)

 

Sanctification

 

Lord’s Day 32

 

Q. 86 Since, then, we are redeemed from our misery by grace through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we do good works?

A. Because Christ, having redeemed us by His blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit after His own image, that with our whole life we show ourselves thankful to God for His blessing, and that He be glorified through us; then also, that we ourselves may be assured by our faith by the fruits thereof; and by our godly walk win also others to Christ. Rom 6:13, 12:1-2; 1 Cor 6:20; 1 Pt 2:5-10; 2 Mt 5:16; 1 Cor 6:19-20; 1 Pt 2:12; 3 Mt 7:17-18; Gal 5:6, 22-24; 2 Pt 1:10-11; 4 Mt 5:14-16; Rom 14:17-19; 1 Pt 2:12, 3:1-2; 2 Pt 1:10

Edited by dmmosher
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And that ad is based on a Protestant Christians understanding of Christianity. I'm not sure where the Orthodox Christians stand on works but for the Catholic Christians good works are a pretty big deal.

 

Of course I can't speak for all Protestants, there are so many unfortunately :tongue_smilie:, most I know believe faith without works is dead as the Scriptures say. But the works that God has prepared for us do not earn us salvation. There is a wonderful Bible teacher and former seminary professor named Steve Brown who put it this way, "A dog doesn't wag its tail to be a dog; a dog wags his tail because he is a dog."

Edited by Karenciavo
saving kittehs
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This church seems to have a very narrow definition of the word religion, in fact, I think they misunderstand the term themselves.

 

 

The following ad for a local church appeared in the paper and I don't understand what it means:

 

Religion Is a Waste of Time

 

The word "religion" is one of the most misunderstood terms in the English language. People think it's synonymous with "Christianity." But it's not. Religion is all about do's and don'ts and trying to earn God's approval by our behavior. But the Bible says eternal life and true peace have nothing to do with what we do. Rather, it hinges on who we have a relationship with. Namely, Jesus - who, by the way, was no fan of religion either.

 

It seems to me this is saying that you can do whatever you want, lie, cheat, murder, whatever, but as long as you have a relationship with Jesus, it ok. I'm assuming that this can't possibly be right.

 

Any insight would be much appreciated.

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This church seems to have a very narrow definition of the word religion, in fact, I think they misunderstand the term themselves.

:iagree:

 

The ad makes me think of this passage from the Bible (From James 1):

 

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

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.

 

 

It also makes me think of that line in Princess Bride where whatsisname says, "You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

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It seems to me this is saying that you can do whatever you want, lie, cheat, murder, whatever, but as long as you have a relationship with Jesus, it ok. I'm assuming that this can't possibly be right.

 

 

 

I'm sure Christians will have many ways of seeing this, but for what it's worth I'll give mine.

 

Actually, I think that what you have said is true, but it is not the whole story. The thief on the cross next to Jesus was told that he would be with him in paradise that night. I presume that his life up to that point-up to the point that he began his relationship, although it must have been very brief, with Jesus, was a life that involved many sins and he probably hurt a lot of people. All that didn't matter because Jesus forgave him. Hopefully, if he had been given a chance to live longer after he met Jesus, he would have lived a different life from that point on because of his relationship with Jesus.

 

Similarly, there is the story of the prodigal son. A beloved child who turned his back on his father and lived a life that brought shame upon himself and on his father. Yet, his father continued to love him and welcomed him back when he was ready to return. Some denominations and people may differ, but I believe that it was told to explain God's love for his children, and his children are those who have met and given their lives to Jesus. So, imagine a person becomes a Christian and has a relationship with Jesus. Then, for some reason, the relationship becomes strained and that person turns away, rejects God, and becomes involved with all sorts of horrible behaviors- lies, cheat, murder, whatever. I believe God continues to love that person, refuses to give up on him or her, and eventually that person will realize his or her situation, return to the family, and will be welcomed back with much love and relief. But, should he or she die before the relationship with Jesus is repaired, I believe he or she will still be accepted into the father's arms upon death. It may not seem fair, but it is love. There may be consequences in heaven, although that part is less clear to me. Will the prodigal simply feel shame at having fewer crowns to lay before the throne or something else? It is unclear to me but doesn't really shake any of my beliefs.

 

Other posters have already shared how good works and a relationship with Jesus should work-and I do believe all that too, but I wanted to share the other side too.

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We Orthodox think works have nothing to do with getting to heaven (or being saved) because that is up to God. But works have a lot to do with learning to be like Christ.

 

Many Orthodox teachers will also reject the word religion as describing the Orthodox Church. I thing they would say: if religion is a way that people try to please a god, then Orthodoxy is not a religion because the goal for the Orthodox is not to please God and get to heaven (or be saved) but the goal is to become like Christ or be united to Christ.

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We Orthodox think works have nothing to do with getting to heaven (or being saved) because that is up to God. But works have a lot to do with learning to be like Christ.

 

Many Orthodox teachers will also reject the word religion as describing the Orthodox Church. I thing they would say: if religion is a way that people try to please a god, then Orthodoxy is not a religion because the goal for the Orthodox is not to please God and get to heaven (or be saved) but the goal is to become like Christ or be united to Christ.

 

Huh. I could totally get into that. You take the works=pass go and collect 200$ and bust it right up.

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I've got issues with the statement. It's true that we don't/can't earn eternal life. However, you can't have a relationship with Jesus and continue in sin. It doesn't mean you won't sin but that belief changes your life.

 

If you focus on relationship with Christ the life takes care of itself. What you see on the outside (those actions or reactions/sin) are the fruit of what is happening in the heart--that relationship. So in my mind the focus does need to be relationship but to say what we do doesn't matter isn't true. A heart in tune with God is cooperating with Him and His Spirit and the life shows that. What we do is a mirror.

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If you focus on relationship with Christ the life takes care of itself. What you see on the outside (those actions or reactions/sin) are the fruit of what is happening in the heart--that relationship. So in my mind the focus does need to be relationship but to say what we do doesn't matter isn't true. A heart in tune with God is cooperating with Him and His Spirit and the life shows that. What we do is a mirror.

 

:iagree:and would add that you never see an apple tree straining to pop out an apple ;). In the same way I think those connected to God can not help but grow fruit. The issues with "religion" as it is being used here, though is that it's inffering a straining to produce works of righteousness or fruit.

 

I will forever have an image of my Pastor pretending to be an apple tree, popping an apple out of his branch (arm) :D. Just doesn't work like that!

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It means that religion (meaning man's traditions of how to run the church or "what a Christian looks like") is a far cry from what a true relationship with God is like. It's not saying that you can do whatever you like and expect a "get out of jail free" card - it's saying that there's more to Christianity than just attending church once or twice a week and appearing respectable.

 

It's also not getting down on denominational traditions in general; there are many traditions that help people better understand how Christianity applies in their lives or who God actually is. What it's saying is that when those traditions or ideas are taken to the level that they seem to supercede Scripture (and I've seen plenty of churches where this is the case) and church becomes something you "do" instead of Christianity being who you "are", that's the wrong place to be. God has so much more for all of us than that.

 

Does that make more sense?

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:iagree:and would add that you never see an apple tree straining to pop out an apple ;). In the same way I think those connected to God can not help but grow fruit. The issues with "religion" as it is being used here, though is that it's inffering a straining to produce works of righteousness or fruit.

 

I will forever have an image of my Pastor pretending to be an apple tree, popping an apple out of his branch (arm) :D. Just doesn't work like that!

 

I like the analogy. I think, though, that it would be equally silly for the apple tree to expect any apples to "pop out" if it were to refuse to participate in photosynthesis, absorbtion of water and nutrients through the roots, etc. Apples don't just appear by magic with no participation from the apple tree at all.

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We Orthodox think works have nothing to do with getting to heaven (or being saved) because that is up to God. But works have a lot to do with learning to be like Christ.

 

Many Orthodox teachers will also reject the word religion as describing the Orthodox Church. I thing they would say: if religion is a way that people try to please a god, then Orthodoxy is not a religion because the goal for the Orthodox is not to please God and get to heaven (or be saved) but the goal is to become like Christ or be united to Christ.

 

Beautiful.

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