Greg Stier tells the story of encountering a Marilyn Manson fan in a coffee shop who saw his arms filled with Christian books and asked Greg, “You religious or something?”
Greg, thinking on his feet, replied, “No man, I can’t stand religious people! They make me want to puke!”
His new acquaintance was taken aback by Greg’s reaction and Greg went on to explain that it was religious people who killed Jesus. By the end of the conversation, the guy was proclaiming, “Jesus rocks!”
It’s a funny story, but it illustrates a point. You can be religious and completely miss out on the relationship that Jesus Christ offers you. You can go through all of the rituals but not experience real, saving faith.
Religion isn’t bad. It’s just often misprioritized. Anytime rules or rituals replace your relationship with Christ, you’re in trouble.
James said, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27 NIV)
In other words, if your religion serves you, then it’s probably empty. But if your religion serves God by serving the people God loves, then it’s a means of demonstrating the overflow of your relationship with Christ.
It’s okay to be religious, but make sure your religion is a working out of your faith-based relationship with Jesus Christ.