After reading a meme on the evils of religion, I sat back in my chair thinking. I came at it from different angles, like social justice, who’s there helping, who do they represent, what is the poster doing about it, what good things have been done in the name of a religion, what bad things as well, what about secular ideals like Nazism and communism? After awhile, I came to a conclusion.
Everyone is religious. Everyone worships something.
False Gods and Religions
In Judaism and Christianity, the top priority is God. Whatever we put over God is an idol. This leads to the question; who is your top priority in life? Who are you putting on a pedestal?
Meet your ‘god’.
The Nazi’s deified the Aryan race. Chasing genetic perfection was their religion that led to the genocide of millions. Maybe you put yourself in the top spot. I did. Maybe you worship your boyfriend/girlfriend, or family. It could be a celebrity or some other public figure.
The Golden Rule is the ideal that we as Christians should pursue, loving our neighbors as ourselves. James 1:19-27 instructs us to not merely hear the word, but to do it. In verse 27, James writes, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” This stems from the Golden Rule.
The ideal we pursue is our religion. What are you constantly running after? A political party’s goals? The Communist Party is atheistic, people were nothing compared to the party, so they deified the ideal. That secular ideal killed more people than Hitler ever did.
Maybe it’s part of a group you’re in. That group’s ideals are now your own. Their worldview is your own now. That is your religion.
If you’re on the path I was on, the ideal you’re following is self-perfection. It led me to become my own god. Great was that fall off of Mt. Olympus.
Everyone worships something or someone. Their religion is the way to their ideal. Some strictly put God in his place and follow the doctrines listed.
Others will twist them for their ideals of power, wealth, or pleasure. Invoking God’s name to try to get some sort of legitimacy that scripture teaches is wrong. Some may prioritize something other than God and pursue that as a religion.
Here’s the thing; you don’t have to follow a god to be religious. People can easily make their favorite cause into a religion and go to war over it. Fanaticism isn’t just in the realm of the religious or spiritual.
The three things that drive the world are the pursuit of power, pleasure, and wealth. Some don’t care who they step on or manipulate to get it. The common denominator of all these?
People and their desires. Christianity, following Jesus, means we don’t care about our status and influence. Through him, we are children of God. Wealth? We store up riches in Heaven instead. Pleasure is the joy of the Lord and the world we live in. We put ourselves last, help others, and put Him first.
Whom Do You Serve
To quote Joshua when he spoke to the Israelites in Joshua 24:15:
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
To me, that means what Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, ‘not my will, but yours’. Check and choose on this day whom you will serve.