I don’t call myself a religious person. I call myself a christian , for this reason: The word ‘religion’ is said to come from a root word ‘religare’, which means to restrain, or tie back. That is what religion does – it binds people, ties them back, restrains them, and keeps them from the liberty which is ours in Jesus.
The pharisees of Jesus’ day is a typical example of religious people – their laws became more important than the spirit of the law. They were so busy keeping their laws and judging those who didn’t that they didn’t recognise the King of Kings, the law-maker himself, in their midst!
Whenever anybody tries to put their laws on to you they are being religious in the sense that the pharisees were. I’m not talking about the important doctrinal things we all agree have to be there in order for us to be christians. I’m talking about the little things…what you eat, what you wear, whether you go to church on a sunday or a saturday, what movies you will watch, if any, whether you celebrate christmas or not… Religion seeks to put people in a straightjacket over issues like these where Jesus just simply wants us to have a real relationship with him and have our consciences clear before Him.
Religion puts us in bondage because it is rooted in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is based on our own human judgement of how good or bad something is, or how well (or how poorly) we (or others) are performing in something. If we have done well, the tendency is to get puffed up and think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. If we have failed, religion clamps its chains of condemnation, self-doubt, worthlessness and discouragement around us. Neither pride nor condemnation brings us closer to God. Only grace!
Where can grace be found? Only in relationship with the One whose very nature is love. We were never meant to know good and evil, we were meant to simply know God on a personal and intimate level. True freedom and liberty can only exist in that place where things no longer get measured by how well we have been performing. It is in that place where we experience the amazing, far-reaching, unconditional love of God towards us that we are truly free to be(come) who we are called to be.
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.