LATJ: Free to Go

28 09 2009

religionThe world loves to praise people that do “good” things. The world loves to destroy people that do “bad” things. But what about God? What does He think? The book of 1 John has several things to say about our attitude and behavior. One verse in particular speaks to God’s love in spite of who we are and what we do — 1 John 3:1. In the commentary for this verse, the Nelson Study Bible says “The world loves those who love them, while God loves even those who disobey Him.”

Our world is consumed with religion and religious activity. Many of the conflicts around the world and even many personal conflicts center on religious ideals and practices. There are many religions in the world. There are even sub-groups within the scope of a larger religious group that came about because of a difference in doctrinal beliefs and ceremonial practices. One definition of religion found in Websters is “the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.” Most religions focus on the external activity of the believer thinking that in order to even have a chance of entering heaven one must rigidly adhere to a set of rituals or good behaviors. It is all about an attempt to reach God. I like one comment on Christianity that I heard a while ago: “Religion is about man attempting to do things to reach up to God. Christianity is about God reaching down to save man.”

What many people do not realize is that Jesus Himself spoke out against religion. He was repeatedly at odds with the religious leaders of His time over ceremonial practices, hypocritical judgment and leadership, and their focus on outward actions. Jesus constantly reminded us that He was more interested in our hearts than our actions. As you study John 8:10-11 you begin to understand that Christ is showing us that it all starts with a changed heart. A changed heart will produce changed behavior. It then becomes our desire to please Him. We should love God so much that what He thinks about us is all that matters.

Romans 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

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