What do you think of religious practices?
Do you feel obliged as a Christian to adhere to certain practices, or do you think that religious practices only relate to those who enjoy High church liturgy?
What is your definition of religious practices?
Please don’t think I’m pressuring you here…I’m just wanting you to think!
I was having a conversation with a newish friend today, and I was surprised at their pre-conceived ideas about my ‘religious practices’. Their rough ideas were based upon their previous experience with other Christian people, and also the Christian denomination I am associated with…
Now please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that this is wrong to do, for if we are honest we’ll realise that we all do this when we meet new people…don’t we? Even if it’s unconsciously, we try to figure out other people as quickly as possible to ‘deal’ with them appropriately. However I must say that I was a bit surprised at their pre-conceived ideas because they were so different from my experiences. Again this is not to say that their ideas were bad or wrong…it’s just what it was…
We chatted a lot and one topic was legalism within Christianity… now this post is not going to deal with this huge topic. We briefly talked about law and grace and religious practices. I also mentioned experiencing God’s grace, my heart’s desire to no longer sin but to live in faithful obedience to God, and my continued need for forgiveness.
Later I read this passage… Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world…James 1:27 NRSV. It got me thinking and hence this post…
Firstly the word ‘religion’ is used here in scripture as a given…so as Christians we are expected to have religious practices…hmmm interesting isn’t it J So maybe religious practices are not something Christians should be scared of, even if they've had a not so good experiences with legalism in the past.
Then how cool is this? The next part tells us about our attitude and what to focus on! You see ‘pure and undefiled before God’ I believe is referring to our attitude or our heart…
If we genuinely care for other people, like orphans and widows in their distress (or people generally having a tough time) from a heart that wants to love them in response to God’s grace and mercy, then this is cool RELIGIOUS PRACTICE to God! It is pure because our motive and attitude is honest.
When someone is stained by the world they are ‘tainted’ by sin and will serve themselves before others…Spend a moment reflecting upon Hosea 6:6
'For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
Jesus even referred to this Hosea scripture challenging the pharisees.
Read it here: Matthew 12:1-8
And here: Matthew 9:1-13