Why I Love Religion

It really gets under my skin when people say they hate religion or that religion is all bad/evil. I get it, I do. A lot of “religious” people have done absolutely horrendous things in the name of religion. From the Catholic war on Protestants and vice versa, to the Islamic war on Christianity and vice versa, to a million other lesser-known “religious” acts of violence, there is a long history of evil.

So yes, I understand where people are coming from when they say that.

But according to Scripture, those people aren’t truly religious- they’re monsters.

Okay, the Bible doesn’t call them monsters.. but it does call them sepulchers (Matthew 23), which refers to dead things, which means zombies, so yeah. Monsters.

(^That was a joke, I do not actually believe in zombies… even after the stories of people eating other people’s faces that went viral several years ago.. actually.. maybe I do?)

There is a movement around thanks to the video, “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus,” that has captivated a lot of people with the idea that Christianity is entirely relationship-based. I agree with most of what he says in the video, but I can’t get past the dominant theme that religion is evil and anti-Christ.

Several weeks ago, when I shared my heart on worship, I mentioned Satan’s sneak attack method. He proposes a bunch of truth, sneaks in a tiny lie, and we fall for it because the truth blinded us. I can’t help but think about that when I see this video, or when I hear people (with disgust in their voice) say, “I’m not religious, I’m relational.”

Here’s the actual truth: if you have an honest relationship with God, you will become a religious person. Let me explain.

The KJV version of the Bible references “religion” or “religious” in six verses.

“Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.”

-Acts 13:43

In this verse, Paul and Barnabas persuaded religious people to continue in the grace of God, as in “keep doing what you’re doing because you’re on the right track.”

“Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.”

-Acts 26:5

The context for this verse is Paul speaking to other Jews. Please notice he didn’t say “my old religion,” but rather “our religion,” as in “still practiced religion.”

“For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”

-Galatians 1:13-14

In this verse, religion is shed in a negative light, not because of the religion itself, rather because of the actions Paul took in the name of religion. As I mentioned before, it is because of people’s actions that religion is generally regarded with disdain, and such was the case in Paul’s time.

“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. 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.”

-James 1:26-27

This is the final passage of Scripture that references religion. Here, religion is regarded as something good, something righteous, unless it is done wrong. This verse speaks out against those evil acts done in the name of religion and then goes on to define what religion actually is.

The key difference between oddball “religions” that primarily use religion as a cover up for horrific acts of violence or use it as a method to make money off of people with guilty consciences and true religion is relationship. Relationship builds the desire for a walk of integrity, a walk full of good works, a walk in religion. Relationship and religion are not contrary to each other; they complete one another.

Don’t just take my word for it, let’s look at that verse again.

 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.

– James 1:27

This Scripture is pretty straight forward- religion is good because at its root, it is loving and caring for people in need and staying separate from the world. All of this is the direct result of having a relationship with Christ.

The true tragedy is when people do things in the name of religion and cause a hatred for God because of it. Paul addressed this very thing, people trussing up religion and then acting against it, in Romans 2.

Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rest in the law, boast in God, know His will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law, and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of the immature, having the full expression of knowledge and truth in the law— you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, “You must not steal”—do you steal? You who say, “You must not commit adultery”—do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob their temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.

-Romans 2:17-24 (HCSB)

The issue is not with religion itself, rather religion that is participated in entirely for the sake of desiring to be superior to those around you. Evil done in the name of relationship is the result of putting the cart before the horse.

Your walk with God must start with a relationship, it must start with a sincere desire to please Him, to separate yourself out of the world for Him, and then true, pure, undefiled religion will begin to form.

For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heartby the Spirit, not the letter…

-Romans 2:28-29 (HCSB)

Once that circumcision of the heart takes place, when you have cut yourself off from the world and attached yourself to Jesus, then you will find it in yourself to love the people in need and to care for them. It is that love (relationship) that will define you as His, and it is your works (religion) that will build up your reward in Heaven.

He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and indignation to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth… affliction and distress for every human being who does evil… but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good

-Romans 2:5-10 (HCSB)

What are your thoughts on religion vs. relationship? Do you agree that they are hand in hand? Please keep your comments kind. 🙂

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You Can’t Hate Your Brother and Call Yourself a Worshiper

Today’s post is part two of the lesson I taught in my church’s youth class a couple of weeks ago. As I mentioned last week, after teaching the lesson, I still felt the burden to share and to give a warning to my generation which is why I decided to post about. I gotta listen to IT, remember?

In case you missed the post I’m referring to, let me explain:

I was invited to teach on the subject of worship. This is something I’m extremely passionate about, so I didn’t struggle to come with a bunch of thoughts. In the first post of this two-part series, I talked about how terrifying some of the quotes I found in my research were. In this post, I want to talk about how raw and cutting the Scripture is and what it has to say about worship and love.


Betrayal is everywhere. It’s a bitter knife to the gut every time and leaves us hurting, angry and numb. Strange how you can feel both hurt and angry and numb all at once, isn’t it? The desire to never be hurt again creates a numbing barrier between our heart and the outside world.

Unfortunately, in the believer’s case, this barrier also comes between us and God.

I’ve talked in the past about the importance of forgiveness. It’s not a new concept to us and most believers are familiar with the verse that says “… if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15 ESV). I think, deep down, we always want to forgive each other, but what if we don’t follow through?

Until I started studying for this lesson, I never really put together the pieces of the salvation puzzle regarding worship and forgiveness. Now that I get it, I’ve noticed a new depth to my worship, a new charge or spark or fire. I’m in a new realm when I lift my hands and heart to the Heavens.

I want that for all of us. But it’s hard to get and, worse, hard to keep. Let me explain.

Worship is adoration.

That’s what makes it different than praise. You can praise someone you don’t like, all you have to do is compliment them. You can’t worship someone unless you adore them. It’s beyond pleasant words or action, it’s an all-consuming love. So consuming that it results in action.

You’ve probably heard it said that “worship is a lifestyle.” This simple phrase bears a much weightier truth. True adoration evokes consistent action.

When you fall head over heels in love, what do you spend your time doing? When I fell in love with Mr. MTBR (this is a reference to my work-in-progress memoirs which none of you but myself will get.. sorry 🙂 ), it looked something like this:

  • Wake up, remember last night’s conversation with Mr. MTBR, say a prayer for him and wonder how his day will go
  • Work, get a text or call from Mr. MTBR, commence daydreaming about the next time I’ll see/talk to him
  • Lunch break, drive home and hear a sappy love song or quote on the radio, smile to myself thinking about the memory of Mr. MTBR it sparks, whisper a quick prayer that his day is going well
  • Back to work, wonder every time my phone buzzes if it’s Mr. MTBR and if we’ll get the chance to catch up on the phone before bed, per sort-of-tradition
  • Off work, head home to eat dinner and watch Netflix then take off to spend time with friends or go to church, all the whilst wondering what Mr. MTBR is doing with his evening
  • Get ready for bed, text Mr. MTBR to see if he’s up for a chat, he usually is, hang up and fall asleep daydreaming about the possibility of the word “future”

Now that was a sickeningly sappy version of love. I didn’t mention the parts where life got really hard and he came through for me, or the parts where it got worse and he didn’t, but I loved him all the same. Love is more than a feeling, it’s a commitment and you choose to be in or out of it.

Anyway, the point is, love evokes action and thought. It’s not something you feel once a day or week or month. You think about the object of that love throughout the day. Now this kind of love, human love, is built on the concept of equality in worth.

Worship takes it a step further. It’s only in existence when you are less worthy than the One you’re worshiping. That knowledge creates an obsessive and extreme adoration for the One who is higher, which evokes action. In other words, when you truly adore God (that One who is higher), you spend your day constantly loving Him and reverentially loving on Him and therefore, your lifestyle becomes one of worship.

Worship and love have a lot more in common. Have you ever noticed that when you love someone and get in a fight with someone they care about, it affects your relationship with them? Things become stilted and awkward, you have a harder time relating to one another. Once again, it’s the same thing with worship.

Worship connects believers to one another. It is key in revival, not just because of how it evolves our relationship with the Object (a word which here means “Incredible, All-Consuming Spiritual Force that gives life to all and can take it away with a single thought”) of our worship, but also because it unites us together. When all of us are not thinking of ourselves, rather the God of the world, we are focused in mind and purpose – we are in one accord (Acts 2:1-5).

There is no more pure unity than in when we come together in worship. Take a moment to reflect on the times you felt closest to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Was it around the altar?

There is something about worship that causes us to forget ourselves and finally think of others first. When you realize that you are nothing in comparison to the One whom your heart adores, it’s easier to let your pride and ambition go. It’s easy to love one another, but sometimes hurt creeps it’s way into the picture.

Continue reading “You Can’t Hate Your Brother and Call Yourself a Worshiper”

God-Worship in a Me-Culture

I recently had the opportunity to teach the youth group at my church on the topic of worship. It’s a topic I’m passionate about (obviously, because Undignified Event) so I didn’t have a hard time coming up with a million thoughts to share.

I wanted to have Scripture to back me up and some cool inspiring quotes from hip celebrities, you know, to be a good millennial speaker, so I set to work looking and ended up in tears- for several reasons. The first, the Scripture was raw and cutting, and the second, the quotes were terrifying.

After teaching the lesson, I still felt the burden to share what I found and to give a warning to my generation. There were two key components to my lesson and, given my tendency to ramble (*cough*), one post would be too long. I’ll split this in two. 🙂


**Disclaimer**

Unfortunately, what I am about to say will offend people. It is my sincerest desire not to offend, so I wanted to state that I am writing this from one Christian to another.

I am not condemning other religions, denominations, or belief systems for their beliefs. I do believe that Jesus is the one God of us all, but I also believe that our judgement rests securely in His hands and not my own. It has never been and never will be my desire to condemn.

I am writing this for my fellow believers because of something I see in our American Christian culture. I specify American Christian because I cannot speak for the burdens of Christians in other nations who live in far less prosperity than we.


Our American culture has set us up for failure when it comes to our faith. We live in a world where people are encouraged to follow their dreams at practically any cost, to believe what we want and let others believe what they want because “everybody’s truth is the truth,” to quote one Morgan Freeman.

The danger in this is that it goes against the solitary (punny) foundation of who God is: ONE.

“…the Lord our God is one Lord.”

-Deuteronomy 6:4

This is the pillar stone of all believers because any change to it creates “false” (read: worshiping the wrong guy) religion. Satan, devious scumbag that he is, capitalizes on our culture by making us gods to ourselves.

He convinces us (yes, me included) that we are the most important people in our lives, others should sacrifice for us, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice for others, we ought to pursue what makes us happy no matter what, and if what we’re doing isn’t making us happy, we should quit it even if it’s the supposed “right thing to do.”

Unfortunately, this self-gratified ME-ME-ME way of thinking has leaked over into our worship services. To prove my point…

We’ve probably all seen this video in the past as it spread like wildfire among believers. Some supporting it, some condemning what she had to say.

For instance, Rob Slane of The Blog Mire seems to agree with Victoria Osteen.

Worship primarily flows from God to us, not the other way around. This might seem utterly counter-intuitive. Surely when we go to church we are paying our dues and giving back to God? Yes we are, but there is something else going on behind that. Primarily, worship is about God doing something for us, not about us doing something for him. Just as salvation is initiated by God and not us, so the primary flow in worship is from God to man rather from man to God. It is God who calls on men to worship him, it he who initiates it, it is he who gives us faith to do it. We respond to all this, but we should remember that in the first instance, our worship services are God’s service to us, not our service to him.”

I, on the other hand, vehemently disagree. While some of what Rob and Victoria have said is true, it’s the little untruths sprinkled throughout their remarks with which I take issue.

You might be thinking “Okay Rach, big deal. A bunch of people are saying things that aren’t 100% true. At least their hearts are in the right place.”

I could totally agree with that. I’d love to say “Yup, no worries.” But I’ve seen too many people walk away from their faith because of the little falsities bad-ol’-Lucy-boy sneaks in and it scares me to my core.

As the sons and daughters of Christ, I feel it is our duty to warn each other when we become aware of these trends. If you knew your sister had cancer, wouldn’t you say something? Or would you let her die without ever realizing there may have been a cure?

In my own life, I’ve found one of Satan’s favorite pastimes is to see how he can make me fall to the sin of pride while hiding it behind the virtue of humility. He likes to whisper things into my ear like “The congregation gets up to worship when you lead because of how good you are at singing, it was so cool of God to bless you with that,” and “whether or not the altar call is powerful depends on if your music director will use your song choice, not his, because God gifted you with worship leader anointing.”

You may be giggling a little because these are laughable whispers that are more false than true, but added up overtime, they can begin to affect the way I think.

In most cases, Satan will tell you large truths with little lies designed to snake around your spiritual larynx and squeeze until you suffocate and DIE (yes! to be dramatic!). It’s like a splash of spit hitting your windpipe when you swallow. Sure most of what you breathed was air, but that little droplet of saliva is enough to make you cough and sputter and struggle to breathe.

This is why I can’t let it go just because someone’s heart is in the right place.

Shortly after I taught this lesson, a new video started catching. I saw friends and family members sharing it on Facebook, saying: “Wow! It’s so cool that Morgan Freeman is bringing publicity to the Pentecostal denomination!”

**Btdubs, ’cause I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it in the past, I attend an Apostolic Pentecostal church similar to what is depicted in the below video, though quite different in several aspects. If you would like a post on what I believe, please let me know. I’d be happy to write a post on it if there is interest.**

I agree that it’s great that he looked into the Pentecostal experience, discussed how we believe in speaking in tongues, and even gave the people in the video credit for being taken to another place spiritually (although, does anyone else get the feeling that this video is very staged??). But did you listen closely? That little phrase towards the end, “everyone’s truth is the truth,” makes this video spiritually lethal.

Not everyone’s truth is the truth. If that were the case, then when we die only 144,000 of us will make it to heaven (Jehovah’s Witness), while at the exact same time all of us will make it to some layer of heaven and some become gods equal to God (Mormonism), while at the exact same time some of us will be in Heaven experiencing new spiritual life separate from our now dead flesh (Christianity), while at the exact same time some of us will be in Heaven experiencing physical wonders in our once again living flesh (Muslim).

Do you see the problem?

Not all truth can be truth.

The very TRUE fundamental basis of worship is HIM HIM HIM. Why? Because of who He is:

The one,

the only,

God.

Worship is, at its root, adoration for someone or thing. If worship is genuinely about us, like Victoria said, then it cannot be about God and we are worshiping ourselves. If we are worshiping ourselves, we are worshiping false gods and we are no better than before we found the grace of God.

God is a very jealous God and He won’t share my adoration with another- that includes me.


… I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

-Exodus 2:6


“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

-Matthew 22:36-37


I realize that I’ve rambled on for sometime so breaking up this lesson into two posts may be a wasted effort (LOL), but I hope you can understand why I’ve shared all this. It’s so important that we not become undone by our ME-culture and that we keep our focus on GOD in our worship.

Worship is not about us, it never has been and never will be.

What are your thoughts? Please keep it friendly. 😉

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