God Versus Religion: How to Discern Between God and Religion
by Paul Davis
"Who created religion, God or man?" This was the question of the night as
many people out partying on a Friday night gathered around for a
spiritual discussion. The fury and frenzy this intelligent and
enlightening question caused was fun to behold. Instead of speaking up
to give the answer, I preferred to enjoy the responses and listen to the
comments. In so doing I was better able to further get a grasp on where
most people were spiritually.
Jesus also asked questions to assess the understanding and discover the
spiritual level of people. Knowing that many had differing opinions
about Him, Jesus boldly asked: "Who do men say that I am?" (Matthew
16:13) Upon getting feedback from a few honest and forthright folks,
Jesus proceeded to ask a more probing and revealing question. "Who do
you say that I am?" (v. 15)
Unlike most religious leaders and figure heads, Jesus was not the least
bit intimidated or upset by honest answers. In fact Jesus preferred
candid comments and honest answers. That is how Jesus answered people
Himself, even if it meant offending them.
Another question we must ask ourselves is if faced with the choice of
knowledge or life, which one do we want? There were two trees in the
garden of Eden - the tree of knowledge and the tree of life (Genesis
2:9). The very fact that Adam chose the wrong tree is why our lives are
limited in years and not eternal to this day. Why is it we are prone to
seek knowledge over experiencing life? Could it be our personal pride
and tendency toward self-sufficiency that causes us to run after that
which fills the head but leaves the heart empty within? Religiosity has
its origins in the tree of knowledge and therein also are its
I shall never forget a Russian Orthodox priest who kept hissing at us in
Moscow, Russia while we viewed a cathedral and the beautiful spiritual
paintings within it. I was with a group of young adults from America on
a mission trip to Russia in 1992. We bumped into this Russian priest, an
artifact of religion himself for sure. The moment we began to excitedly
express ourselves and happily remark about the various Christian pieces
of art, the priest began telling us to hush and be quiet. We could not
understand why. It is rather hard to keep Americans (who come from a
free country historically) quiet. Shortly after the priest's first
rebuke we were celebrating again. A harsh 'Shhhhhhhh!' suddenly
reverberated across the cathedral as the priest with a stern look on his
face gave us the evil eye. I, in my great boldness and disrespect for
religion, got in the priest's face and asked him 'Why? Why do we have to
be quiet?' His reply shocked and alarmed me. 'Because there are dead
people buried in here beneath the church.'
Isn't that interesting? The
priest was more concerned about dead people rather than the living. And
that precisely defines the matter of religion. Religion defends the dead
before it celebrates the living. Religion can never celebrate the living
because it is dead. The liveliness of the living is an indictment
against dead religion and further attests to its death and lack of life.
Religion would rather hush the happy than awake the dead.
The voice of
religion says: "Shhhhhh!"
The voice of God says:
"Lift up your voice!"
"Speak on!" (Acts 4:19-20)
"Be bold and very
courageous!" (Joshua 1:6)
"Let the dead bury and care for the dead. You
go and preach the gospel." (Matthew 8:22)
God goes up with a shout
Religion brings you down with a pout. When Jesus returns
to the earth, He will descend from heaven with a joyful and triumphant
shout (1Thessalonians 4:16). When religion returns it comes with a
scowling look of legalism and accusation. Thankfully God is greater as
He has a heart and prefers affection and expression.
Spirituality - what differentiates Religion from Spirituality?
Religion is "absolute truth of life" of the physical manifested
world. It is Religion and not Spirituality which forms the basis
of the present society we live in.
Religion For Non Believers
Religion for me has been a bewildering and reluctant adversary. For the
longest time religion meant belief in some strangers prescription for
Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what's behind them.
Perhaps that's why prayer works - because God seldom speaks in an audible voice, and He doesn't force His
way. God listens and lets you work it out with His caring assistance.