Religion is not a good thing, but spirituality is a wonderful thing. Religion and its first cousin “religiosity” serve no Godly purpose but are in fact feeble attempts by man to fulfill the inner longing to acknowledge the existence of God and thereby gain a measure of self righteousness from Him.
The Bible says that “Godliness with contentment is great gain” in the book of Timothy. Godliness is the proper term that should be used when defining and describing the desired relationship between man and God. Godliness is the complete opposite of religion and produces Godly fruit as opposed to the temporal and self-serving fruit of being religious.
Christianity is not a religion but rather the faith that is common to all who have been saved. Christianity is not a set of rules or intricate rituals designed to appease or placate an angry God. Religion uses legalism as its basis whereas true Christianity is founded upon and uses love as the foundation and motivation for doing as God says to do.
Being termed a “religious” person may sound good but in reality it is not. The desire of our hearts should be to become GODLY and not religious. Of course this is predicated upon the belief that a person desires to please and bless God instead of wanting only to escape His wrath and judgment and/or simply wants to “look religious”.
Jesus used the word “tradition” many times when talking with the Pharisees and scribes. The religious traditions Jesus referred to were repetitive actions and phrases used to confess sins and “worship” God. Over time, the traditions laid upon God's people became an oppressive blanket that stifled spontaneous and individual prayer and praise to God.
Jesus made it clear that traditions do not save anyone. Jesus taught that we must worship God in spirit and in truth and not through faithfully adhering to a system of actions that formed the basis for a nice looking religion. By the time Jesus taught these things, the beautiful Jewish faith had been reduced to a set of regulations so strict that no one could keep them. There was no longer any life in their faith but rather only condemnation, fear and the blind obedience these things produce.
The true Christian faith is so simple a child need not err therein. Instead of attempting to regulate the flesh, the true Christian faith promotes a deep relationship with God which in turns produces a yearning to please God founded upon love for Him. Christianity is from the inside out whereas religion is from outside in.
God desires His people do things His way because of their love for Him and their desire to love their neighbor as themselves. God does not care about outward displays of skin deep piety but rather the full expression of love that emanates from within the heart and is motivated by the passion to please God.
As always, Blessings 2 You!