Realizing their nakedness, Adam and Eve quickly sewed together aprons of fig leaves. Then, instead of confronting their disobedience (sin), and facing Almighty God, they hid, offering excuses instead of showing repentance (Genesis 3). Therein rests religion?not Christianity!
Around the world there are an estimated 22 major religions, each startling in their diversity. Buddhism, for example, generally does not believe in any type of God, or everlasting life after death. Scientology teaches that a person is an immortal spiritual being (thetan) who has lived many past lives.
Hare Krishna followers believe in reincarnation. Wicca, with covens and witches, is based on ancient pagan beliefs. Hinduism, with 900,000,000 adherents, claims there is one 'supreme reality' manifested in several gods and goddesses. Shinto, an ancient Japanese religion, recognizes various deities of nature.
Islam with over 1.5 billion worshipers has Allah as their god. Abraham, Moses and Jesus are highly regarded prophets, the divinity of Jesus is blasphemous and Jesus' crucifixion is denied. New Age is a movement that promotes different paths to God.
Mormonism teaches the unsaved dead can enter into Heaven if baptized by proxy. Catholicism honors the position of Pope. Protestant religions differ in beliefs and doctrines as well. Some believe Christianity is also a religion. By definition, religion, in most part, is a system of organized behaviors dictated by man. Christianity is best described as a way of life; a life-changing relationship with a living person- Jesus Christ!
Unlike Christianity, religion presents the means by which we can convince ourselves that through our own efforts, we can please God. Humanity's first parents tried this method and failed! Instead of facing God to confess their sin (partaking of the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil - Genesis 3:6), they attempted to cover-up their transgressions with pathetic excuses and flimsy fig leaves. We, too, not wanting to confront our sin nature, endeavor to conceal our transgressions by hiding behind religious, man made 'fig leaves' of laws, policies, rituals and exercises.
By doubting God, we find it easier to satisfy fleshly appetites (I John 2:16). Because Eve questioned God's word, it was easy for her to accept Satan's deceitful version of God's commandment. (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-5) Religions all over the world sow doubt by adding to, subtracting from and ultimately rejecting the purity and inerrancy of God's Holy Word. "Every word of God is pure?Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee and thou be found a liar." (Proverbs 30:5-6) Sadly, religion misses the simplicity of Jesus (II Corinthians 11:3)! "But I (Apostle Paul) fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." (II Corinthians 11:3)
We struggle with our flesh, hide and excuse sin, work for salvation, and obey man's religious demands, but no religion, regardless of its persuasion, is the answer. Christianity is! Christianity is entirely based on and rooted in the incorruptible Biblical truths that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, paid our sin debt and rose again, providing us the opportunity to escape the horrors of eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46).
Religions vary drastically but authentic Christianity has no variants; no religious dos and don'ts! We have ONLY to place our faith in the finished work of the Cross (Jesus' crucifixion), fully believing there is nothing more to be done, but to accept! Jesus said, "It is finished." (John 19:30) "Neither is there salvation in any other for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?." (Galatians 6:14) We may delight in a particular religion, earnestly adhering to its mandates. We lift up our voices in praise, recite Scripture, and teach Sunday school but without the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are lost! "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us?" (Titus 3:5) Christianity isn't works and man made dogmas, but a genuine Christian faith. A faith requiring authentic repentance and unwavering trust in God through Christ. (Romans 10:9-13))
Religion is man's creation; Christianity is a gift from God! "For by grace are ye saved through faith? it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Nancy Hamilton is an author of Christian books. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Christy Hudson at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.