Sunday, 18 March 2012

There is much outward show in established religion.
People will attend their preferred church, and on the whole, wish for no changes.
Why do they want no change? Is it because they are simply not thinking about what they are doing and enjoy the lack of responsibility? By nature, we all seek an easy life, but generally, if something costs nothing, it's usually worth nothing.
In true religion this is also the case. But if you take this same principal too far, you end up in legalism: which is earning your way into heaven - and that's impossible.
A man once said: 'Going to church no more makes you a Christian than standing in a garage makes you a car.'
Very true.
But there are regiments of people doing just that. Even genuine Christians, I believe, are guilty of this. Oh yes indeed - walking in darkness (Isaiah 50: 10).
Every denomination, congregation even, has its own way of doing things. Its own peculiarities, it's own wee traditions and habits, and these same habits, have, over the years become much loved and much entrenched. We are, after all, when all is said and done, creatures of habit. We form our various habits and we enjoy them. Sadly, we carry this baggage into our religion and into our churches.
Churches are perfect cultures for this form of self-deceit and the devil knows it well.
So we have congregations of people up and down the land, coming and going to and from church, imagining they do well. Yes, and often imagining that they are the only ones right.
But they do not do well.
This, is Christianity's biggest problem. This, is what Christ preached against most. This, he warned us, will bring us down to hell.
If we are guilty of this, we are not worshipping God, but a system. Our own chosen little system of so-called worship. Is that what we hold dear - our particular little set of habits and peculiarities which define our little (or large) group? Because if it is, it is not the worship of God, but just another form of idolatry.
Dead outward religion.
Smoke in his nostrils.
While we are in this condition we are only capable of hypocrisy.
We must look beyond these things.
Christ said: 'And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, ENTER INTO THY CLOSET, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them...' (Matthew 6: 5-8). My capitalization.
Here, Christ makes it clear what is important. And it is not time spent in church.
Rather, what is important is drawing near to God in the secret place. Then, and only then, will we be prepared and therefore able, to discern the good from the bad, wisdom from folly and to 'take forth the precious from the vile.' (Jeremiah 15: 19).

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