Why do we need religion?

There was an article posted a few days ago in the Opinion section of USA Today written by Oliver Thomas explaining in his opinion why we need religion:
Why religion? In the face of pogroms and pedophiles, crusades and coverups, why indeed?
Religious Americans have answered the question variously. Worship is one answer. Millions gather each week to acknowledge their higher power. The chance to experience community is another. Healthy congregations are more than civic clubs. They are surrogate families. The opportunity to serve others also comes to mind. Americans feed the hungry, clothe the naked and house the homeless largely through religious organizations. Yet as important as community, worship and service are, I am convinced that religion’s greatest contribution to society is even greater.
Religion makes us want to live.

Or as he concluded later in the article:

….religion makes it easier to be decent. The positive core values, mutual accountability and constant striving for self-improvement help one to be a better person. And I want to be a better person. Not because I’m afraid of God. Because I’m grateful for another trip around the sun and, like a good house guest, want to leave this place in better shape than I found it.

Read the full article here.

I must admit that this article made me sad.

If this is what the acceptable face of Christianity has become then we really have lost faith in the power of the gospel.

Temporal, therapeutic, moralistic deism – is that it?

Where are the hard won benefits of the cross and new resurrection life in Christ?  Where is the power of the Holy Spirit?  What about transformation and new life in the inaugurated Kingdom of God – with Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour – freeing us to experience the present reality of the future new creation?

Is faith in Jesus only about becoming ‘a better person’?

But this is where I got sad…..

As I found myself getting angry and disgusted by Thomas’ description of the value of ‘religion’ it suddenly occurred to me that maybe he was describing the reality of my spiritual experience more than I initially realised.

Am I truly living in the transforming power of the gospel – or am I just slowly becoming ‘a better person’?

The hard truth is that it is too easy for us to lose the cutting edge of faith – for the refreshing transcendent experience of freedom in Christ to become a mundain shadow of what it used to be – for the Holy Spirit power that worked so freely in us and around us at first to become a distant memory.

Christ in me, is my hope of glory – that is the truth that must be a constant and present reality in my life!

Life doesn’t come from practicing religion – it comes from knowing Jesus – not by becoming ‘a better person’ but by being transformed by God’s love and grace.

Anything else is just a poor copy – a tawdry imitation!

Lord, I repent.  Forgive me.

2 thoughts on “Why do we need religion?

  1. Ann van Wijgerden

    "… being transformed by God’s love and grace…" I can’t help thinking that that’s what Joshua Harris’s ‘Humble orthodoxy’ is all about… "Anything else is just a poor copy – a tawdy imitation", or to quote Mr Harris again: "arrogant orthodoxy" or "squishy theology". (See p.225 of:www.scribd.com/doc/35044539/Dug-Down-Deep-Chapt-11-Humble-Orthodoxy-by-Joshua-Harris )

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  2. Martin Luff

    Absolutely, Ann!I didn’t find the Humble Orthodoxy video I posted earlier today until after I wrote this post last night – but you’re right, it’s all similar themes :)Bless yaBTW – the book is now officially started – only 1000 words so far – but it’s on its way 🙂

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