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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 limitations.

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!" (Acts 4:24,29-31)
"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 (Psalm 47:5).

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.

See Also:

Religion and 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 salvation.

Please Listen
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.

About the Author

Paul Davis is author of Breakthrough for a Broken Heart a book telling you "How to overcome disappointments and blossom into your dreams!" He is a minister, life coach (relational & professional), dating expert, popular worldwide keynote speaker, creative consultant, humor being, adventurer, explorer, mediator, liberator and dream-maker. RevivingNations@yahoo.com  www.DreamMakerMinistries.com

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