True religion is not what so many think.
True religion is not: rules and regulations. Ceremonies, various types of sacrifice and feasts.
True religion is not "Hey, let's get a bunch more- just like us- together." (e.i. "we are looking for like-minded folks..." usually spoken with either an air of superiority or in a conspiratorial tone- as in "you are INcluded)
If you go to worship God in a place where everyone looks, dresses, and acts just like you, you have bigger problems than you think. Christ is not exclusive, and neither should we be. We should be striving to look like Him, not our friends at Church.
"These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh." Colossians 2:23
True religion is not saying one thing and then doing another. Not at all. We've all got some changing to do, huh? Me first.
"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless." James 1: 26
True religion is all about others. It's about bringing in the lonely, cold, hungry, thirsty- physically and spiritually, and INcluding them. Giving them a place in our community. If they want it.
True religion can be found in my church. This morning I really had to hold on to my tears (I do NOT cry in public) at church. You know who lit the Advent candle this morning? And gave the devotion? A group of men from the Union Gospel Mission in the Men's Program. Essentially homesless men drying up and going through withdrawals. I watched with my breath held and silent prayers going up to the Throne for the little man who literally tottered up the stairs and with shaking, tattooed fingers lit the candle after a couple of tries. I watched them with dignity and heads held high but still looking humble...as they passed the microphone around for each of them to read their parts.
That's one of the reasons I love my church.
I hope when you go to church you will look in the front rows and see the formerly homeless, the prostitutes, drug addicts and alcoholics. I hope they are INcluded. I hope they are warmly embraced!
Isn't it what we are left here on this earth to do? Embrace "the least of these?" INclude them in the Family /Body of Christ when He reveals Himself to them? and I don't know about you, but it sure could have been me. It has been some of my own family.
There are people at my church who drive across town and pick up the folks from the mission every week so they can come to church every Sunday. And more than once I have attended Bible study with the ladies from that mission because after they come to church and are INcluded they want to be discipled in the Word. Pretty soon the Word, powerful and effective, heals broken places in them. They disciple others....That's true religion.
True religion is also this girl Katie who is living the Gospel daily. For real!
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
True religion is about using the resources God has given us so He can love others through us. We are blessed to be able to be INcluded. It's a win win for everyone.
I have been thinking a lot lately. What's true religion to you? What have your eyes seen lately?