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How Important is Religion?

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Question: How Important is Religion?
Here’s a thought provoking line of questioning asked by one reader in a post entitled, “How important is religion?” She goes on to say, “In my opinion we have too many versions of the Bible out there. No wonder people get confused. But which version is the right version? What religion is the right religion?”
Answer:

Rather than religion, true Christianity is based on relationship.

God sent his beloved Son, the one he’d had relationship with for all eternity past, into this world in order to have relationship with us. 1 John 4:9 says, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (NIV) He created us for relationship with Him. Not a forced – “you will love me” – relationship, but rather, one established by our own free-will choice to accept Christ as personal Lord and Savior.

God created us to love him and to love one another.

There is a universal attraction within the human race to build relationships. The human heart is drawn to fall in love--a quality placed within our soul by God. Marriage is the human picture or illustration of the divine relationship we are ultimately destined to experience for all eternity with God once we’ve entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (NIV)

Avoid arguments.

I believe that too much time is wasted by Christians arguing about religion, doctrine, denominations, and Bible translations. John 13:35 says, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV) It doesn’t say, “They will know you are a follower of Christ if you carry the right Bible,” or “if you go to the best church,” or “practice the correct religion.” Our unique distinction should be our love for one another.

Titus 3:9 warns us as Christians to avoid arguments: “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.” (NIV)

Agree to disagree.

The reason there are so many Christian religions and denominations in the world today is because throughout history people have differed widely in their diverse interpretations of Scripture. But people are imperfect. I believe that if more Christians would stop worrying about religion and being right, and begin to spend their energy developing a living, daily, personal relationship with the one who made them – the one they profess to follow – then all of these arguments would fade into the background. Wouldn't we look a little more Christ-like if we all would just agreed to disagree?

So let’s take our example from Christ, the one we follow.

Jesus cared about people, not about being right. If he had only cared about being right, he would never have allowed himself to be crucified. Jesus looked into the hearts of men and women and had compassion for their needs. What would happen in today’s world if every Christian would follow his example?

In summary, I believe that religions are simply the man-made interpretations of Scripture designed to give followers a model for living their faith. I don’t believe God intended for religion to become more important than relationship with him.

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