The apostle Paul says “those who are led by the Spirit are the Sons of God”. In the original Greek, sons actually means “mature sons”. And Jesus said “the Peace makers shall be called the Sons of God” In these last days religious mindsets are very much a part of a Christian's Walk with many. (Rom 8:14 Mt 5:9)
Let me explain the difference. To be a Christian is to have experienced Salvation and an indwelling Christ.....living and walking with JESUS having found a union with Him; you ardently believe who He claimed to be and His Words become real to you; you're looking forward to Heaven and value prayer until you are there.
Religion is a belief in God with certain rules and regulations that get to be part of your mindset. They can be persuasive and invasive, determining your lifestyle and the decisions you make. While many verses from the Bible exist in religion with man made rules, they are usually based on certain interpretations...... and having committed yourself to these, you dare not step outside the square.
It is a square building you attend – since the Roman emperor Constantine changed the times and the seasons (the way Early Christians did things) with a square set of rules and theories found in books (based on the beliefs and disposition of whoever started the particular sect). Now in making the Church a Sate Institution, Constantine invited hierarchy into it and man made laws have become predominant over God's. Jesus gave us two commandments over the ten that is to “love The Lord your God with all your mind and heart and strength and your neighbour as yourself” put simply is “to love Him as much and closely as we do a loved one and to treat others as we wish to be treated showing consideration and respect”.
The trouble with hierarchy is that Christians started to look to man instead of God for their guidance, their values, their beliefs. And that man being fallible started to divide believers into different religions referred to by the Apostle Paul as sects. When the scriptures say “looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our Faith” and concerning the dominating of leadership, “it should not be so among you”.
We were not called to “lord it over each other” - hierarchy over us (called leadership) and Christians one over the other as with opinions and conflicting beliefs. Paul said “that is the way of the Gentiles” - (contention that exists in the world) that we should not “give ourselves to divisions” and such. Why did the apostle say “how is it that some of you say, I follow Paul, I follow Apollos?” when there is “One Faith and One Lord of us all”. Further more we are told that “He is not a God of confusion but a God of PEACE” Paul addressed the behavior of some Christians saying “you did not learn this from me”. Sometimes there can be a tendency to alienate each other with our differences in conversation, and it is the carnal (old) nature that does this. We are called in Christ to live after the New Nature that is peaceable and lends itself to reason, not selfish views.
I put it to you that we need to return to “our sincere love of Christ” and follow Him. Jesus said “if you continue in My Words you will know the Truth and this Truth will set you FREE” never mind man's – they will bind you every time. We are also called to a “sincere love for each other” and can I tell you that “arguments, strife and envy” don't measure up to that – Jesus has much better intentions and expectations for us to Walk with Him. It's a shame that we let Him down this way.....hey? Seems like He died in vain when we demonstrate such behavior traits.
Those ways should be left in the world and not carried over into our walk with Jesus. Let's not “crucify Him over again” with such distasteful and trivial conduct but rather, grow together into Him “who is over all rule and authority and every dominion”. His Ways are better, His Words are LIFE to him who finds them”. They can help you steer a straight coarse; prosper you in heart and soul and for the purpose He intends for us; make you strong in this day and age so you are not shaken and they are “pleasant to the soul” - that's your mind and emotions. They will build you up and not tare you down. And the same to those around you. Your company will be comfortable and inviting to fellow believers and those who don't know Jesus yet.
When it comes to those in the world, we have not given them a better reception sometimes than we give to others with religious persuasions or narrow mindedness. “Broad is the way that leads to destruction” Jesus said. The enemy of mankind is so busy in the world trying to lure people away from Christ lest they find Him, enticing them with all manner of temptations in his mass distraction campaign.
He is also doing his best to influence Christians. He knows that many of us are spoiled to the world (awake to certain bondages etc) so he targets us through religious appeal (things that seem godly) like being too holy to live in the world; churchy mindsets: too heavenly minded to be any earthly good, as the saying goes; communicating only with Christians etc and coming up with all manner of doctrines (teachings) that are meant to keep people away from a walk with Christ and spoil yours.
Some of these teachings have spiritual appeal, because many people are becoming aware that they have a spiritual need too, not just physical, mental and material. And of coarse, the Christian won't fall for it unless it seems “spiritual”. This is another reason why you need to stay really close to the Heart and Words of Christ so religious tricks have no appeal to you. You can stay above them and free of them because they always have some twist – they will distort your Christian Walk and lead to bondage of some kind. We are called to be Free. That is free from bondage; free from sin-nature – a desire to sin (ways that offend God). Free to experience Peace and Joy that comes from His Presence. Man's doctrines will alienate you from the true Presence of God
and it's beauty. They need to be discerned.
To be continued
In Part Two, you will read how we need to be
with those who have not found Jesus yet.
We tend to forget so quickly how we thought
before we received Salvation
and maybe how Christians and Religious people
came across to us. We need to be wise.