True Religion

Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

What does true religion look like? To many, “religion” consists of what you do in church, i.e., various rituals or practices. It consists of saying certain things or prayers that are prescribed for them by religious leaders – or acting in certain ways during times of “worship,” lighting candles, singing songs, or eating and drinking certain things on specific “holy days.” “Religion” to them is something that is relegated to a church building. But what happens before they enter the building and after they leave has little relevance to it.

The Bible teaches that while people can honor God by various traditions and rituals, if that’s all that our religion consists of, it is woefully missing the mark. The kingdom of God has both external elements and internal. While it may include what happens within the walls of a church building, if it is limited to that, it falls far short of what God intended for us.

Externally, the kingdom of God is a matter of “righteousness.” “Righteousness” is simply doing what is right in God’s eyes. What this looks like is documented throughout the Scriptures, and true righteousness is a result of an act of God on a person’s heart. Through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as payment for the penalty of our sin, and repentance – turning away from sin – a person is declared righteous by God. That declared righteousness is reflected in a righteous life – living day by day and moment by moment in ways that glorify God.

James 1:27 describes it in very practical terms as follows: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Such a life results in the inner peace and joy that is given as God’s gift to those whom He has made righteous.

So does this describe our religion? If it doesn’t, then our religion is something that is man-made and foreign to the God who should be the object of all worship. May the true religion that honors God be that which characterizes our lives.

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