Religion is a touchy subject with many people. It seems that there has been much non-religious preaching in western society about the dangers and wrongs of religion as a whole concept. And so back to John Lennon’s famous song, “Imagine” and even further, people have assumed that religion is the enemy of unity and peace. The promoted thought is that religion only divides and distinguishes groups of people, and therefore it only serves to create enemies. This is why so many echo the sentiment of one of last year’s most popular YouTube videos: “What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion? I mean if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars?”
It is important that we do not see religion as the great enemy of godliness. Jesus came to set up a religion. His apostles were sent out to teach people the way to enact that religion. Religion is not in itself an enemy of godliness and spirituality. False religion is an enemy of godliness and spirituality, just as false anything is an enemy of godliness and spirituality. Religion is not the problem. False teaching about religion is the problem.
There are many false ideas that have led to a breakdown of religion in today’s world, and the remainder of this article will deal with two of them.
First, the idea that religion is meant to be a cafeteria-style experience. That in fact, it is important that there are so many different religions because everyone needs to be able to find the right religion that teaches what they understand as the truth. So different religions cater to different crowds, and it is my job as a responsible, thinking adult to consider all the options and choose carefully what I will believe and with which religion I will place my association. This picking-and-choosing style of religion is what is meant by cafeteria-style.
Secondly, there is a prevailing idea that worship is an audience experience. That worship really involves a crowd of people sitting down in and auditorium and watching a performance of spiritual music and spiritual speaking, and then leaving to attend everyday life until the next performance. This audience-performance style of religion is what is meant by auditorium-style.
It is important that Christians everywhere understand these are not the pattern God has set out for his religion—Christianity. God’s pattern is that religion and spirituality come hand in hand. They are a package. One cannot be truly spiritual without being religious, and one must not be religious while neglecting to be spiritual. They are inseparable if either is to accomplish its goals. All Christians need to be aware of these dangers. They are not problems which are isolated to ‘those people out there.’ They are problems that Satan will use on us all if he ever gets the chance.
-Submitted by Dan Lankford