Many people hate religion. This is often justifiable because of past bad experiences. It may surprise you to know that many regular church goers, devout Christians, ministers and pastors hate religion too!
Let me explain what I mean. Religion is associated with rituals, ceremonies, and rules. We think of religion as being somehow separate from the rest of life. Religion belongs in particular buildings where we need to behave differently. On Sundays and special occasions, we may be religious – but then we can go about our normal business for the rest of the week.
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus hated that sort of religion. Jesus reserves his strongest criticism for the religious leaders. He accused them of hypocrisy – because their religion was all outward show and had no real substance. In contrast, Jesus showed great compassion on anyone who came to him honestly and openly admitting their need of help from God.
True Christianity is about loving relationships. Firstly, our relationship with God and secondly, our relationships with one another. Jesus lived, died and rose again so that our relationship with God could be restored. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we can be forgiven for everything we have done wrong and can come to God and know his presence and his love. Secure in the knowledge and experience of God’s love for us, we are then in a much better position to sort out our relationships with others – family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. This sort of Christianity is relevant 24/7.
The problem with religious rituals and rules is that they can distract us from our relationship with God. Rituals and rules of themselves will not improve our lives much and will not prepare us for facing God on the final day of judgement. If we focus on knowing God in an honest and open way then that can make a much greater difference to our lives both now and in eternity.
Come to church – not because you think you should – but to be open with God, to learn about him and to allow him to work in you to transform your relationship with him and with other people.