Is your religion worthless?
I have to be honest, that question stings. Just to type the question, I felt a little sick to my stomach. It puts up a wall of defensiveness, and makes me cling even tighter to the God I serve, and the power of Jesus. My religion is certainly not worthless. It shapes my life, now, and every decision I make. It shapes my relationship with my co-workers, my friends, my children, and my wonderful wife. I need Jesus. He saves me, daily, and loves me so much that He died for me on a cross. And yet I ask…is it worthless?
In James 1:26, it says, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”
William J. Toms is quoted, often, for his phrase, “Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.”
I think the passage from James carries the very same message, just with a dash more harshness to it. Not that I mind, though, because that harshness is what draws me to take a closer look at my life, my words, my actions. Am I living, every single moment, in a way that is pleasing to God and would bring glory to Him? I can boldly and proudly proclaim, NO. I am not. I am human and I sin…a lot…but, I know that each day I draw closer to being the person that Christ wants me to be…calls me to be. I know that with each word spoken, or action I take, that I am carrying my “religion” into that encounter. It would be far easier to be a quiet Christian, and not have to “worry” about what I do tainting others perceptions and beliefs about Christianity. Yet, I know that when I was first saved, 21 years ago, I went through a very long period of being quiet…and I experienced hardly any growth in my faith. I knew Jesus was Lord, and I believed in all the Bible said, it was just that I didn’t want anyone else to know that I felt that way. Why? I was selfish. I wanted to live my life and I knew that if I said I was a Christian, I would have to change my life and actually be a Christian. After that, and because there were no roots to take a hold of me, I went through a long season of searching for those things that make me happy and fulfilled and fell away from the Church.
But, because of the grace of God, I found the three things that have gotten me to the happiest point in my entire life.
Know what finally got me there? These three things have changed my life.
1) Go “all-in” on your relationship with Jesus. Do not be a part-time follower, be a lifetime follower. The wonderful blessings God has in store for you will always seem a bit out of reach without Him. But with Him, ALL things are possible.
2) Be a man, or woman, of integrity. Be who you are in public and private. Be transparent in all of your relationships. Be honest. Anticipate things that could cause issues for you, and avoid them. Open yourself up to all you know.
3) Love your wife, or husband, like Christ loved the Church. My wife is truly the most amazing person on this planet. I cannot stand the thought of living one moment on earth without her by my side. Natalie, I love you…and I thank you for sharing life with me.
As I end, today, I ask you this question: Is your religion worthless? Or maybe even a question with a bit more harshness to it: If you were a persons only Bible they read, today, would they understand the power of our Lord?
My prayer, for all of us, is that they would.
In His Name,
Eric J. Wasson