It is a popular notion that christian religion is man’s imitation of Jesus. But Christianity is not a religion.
Christianity is Christ.
The book of James is sometimes sighted as proof that Christianity is a religion. It is assumed that because there is a Bible verse that uses the word “religion” in a positive way, that in God’s eyes, “religion” is a good thing.
The Father has no regard for the quality of your external behavior. The issue is completely about who is living.
Clean the inside of the cup and dish, then the whole vessel is made clean, Mt 23:26.
Is it you? or is it Jesus Christ Who is animating and motivating you?
When I say something this way, sometimes people respond,
Oh. So now I can just do anything I want?
If you think we are saying that Christ in you enables you to live any way you want, you have misunderstood me completely. Your death with Christ does not enable you to live at all.
Most of the New testament references to “religion” are used in a negative sense. For example, Paul writing about the emptiness of “The Jews religion” says,
“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Col. 2:21-23 ESV.
I can’t find the term “religion” in the Old Testament. The only use is in the Septuagint: (the Greek Old Testament) is a reference to the “worship” of idols in the Wisdom of Solomon 14:27.
So is “religion” good?
Only Christ in you is good. Religion is only good to the measure that it points hearts to Jesus. Sure, James wrote affectionately about religion:
“Religion pure and undefiled with the God and Father is this, to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Jas. 1:27
This religion is purely fulfilled. It is fulfilled in the appearing of Jesus Christ. In seeing Him each and every heart experiences the reality that by Him you have become born of God. By the cross Christ has made Himself the Head and Father of the Fatherless. And that by His Spirit, you have been brought into the family of God.
“My brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, for you to become married to Another, to One raised from the dead, so that we may bear fruit to God” Rom. 7:4
So by the cross Jesus Christ is Head and Husband to the Church. The Marriage of the Lamb
is not an unfulfilled event.
The Gospel of Christ is the fulfillment of true religion. Through Christ God has more than cared for orphans and widows He is Father to the Fatherless. He has married the fruitless widow and brought her into Union.
Do not forget the poor in there need. Give.
But do not to neglect to give the gospel of Christ.
Give Them Christ.