By BILL BUCKLEY
Why we need less ‘religion’
“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:18)
The nation of Israel barely existed coming out of Old Testament history. They let doctrines, dictators and deserts divide them. Their hearts wandered from the one true God and they lost their way. How can we expect to stand together if we do the same thing? We can’t stand together if we don’t bow down together!
I’m not as interested in your color, nationality or politics as I am your heart. You see, your heart was made for one thing only — to worship, to bow down, to serve, to exalt, to lead you, to love. Let’s not kid ourselves about worship — you worship whatever or whoever gets the best of your time, talent and treasure.
I believe our biggest problem in Mississippi is not racism but rather “religion” — defining God and self through rules, races and regulations, based on merit, bloodline and performance, instead of favor, family and Father.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, use these 10 negative effects of “religion” to evaluate the motives of your relationship with our good, good God.
1. Religion protects doctrines instead of people. “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.” (Matthew 23:4)
2. Religion has contempt for sin but no compassion for those caught in sin. “As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.” (John 8:3)
3. Religion is powerful with words but weak in demonstration of God’s power and love. “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20)
4. Religion can’t celebrate the greatness in people who believe differently. See the story of Ruth in the book of Ruth.
5. Religious people can see others’ weakness but not their own. “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
6. Religious people impose their will on others because they believe that’s what God does. “…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (from Deuteronomy 30:19)
7. Religious people see people as the enemy, instead of sin as the enemy. “When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?’” (Matthew 9:11)
8. Religious people see God as the boss and you as the employee, while Jesus sees God as the Father and you as the son/daughter. “But you are a CHOSEN RACE, a royal PRIESTHOOD, a HOLY NATION, a PEOPLE for God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9, all-caps mine)
9. Religion emphasizes prohibition, but the gospel emphasizes permission. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
10. Religion is safe and reasonable. Jesus is radical and unpredictable. “When Jesus heard this, He said to him, ‘One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’” (Luke 18:22)
We all have some “religion.” Let’s agree to let the Holy Spirit convict us of it so that we can be free to love and serve one another with pure, devoted hearts. Let’s stand together! I’m believing in you! #StandTogether
Bill Buckley is state director for the Mississippi Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has been an FCA staff member for 25 years. He is married to Mississippi artist Mary Parker Buckley, and they have three kids and 12 grandkids.