I don't believe true Christianity deserves to be demoted to a religion. We all answer the question of what religion we belong to as Christianity, but it just isn't so. Making this distinction is so important because it is the basis for what we actually believe. If you look at Christianity as a religion then you haven't a clue of what Christianity is. If you understand Christianity then you realize that there is nothing you can do to gain acceptance from God. That is not religion. Religion is ceremony. It is tradition. It is a means to God. But Jesus taught us there is no means to God that we can accomplish. He said the only way to God is through Him. That is not religion, that is Christianity. That is so offensive to people. They don't want to believe that the means to God has been performed by Jesus Christ FOR them. Leaving NOTHING for them to do but accept that. To believe it. To trust it. People in general resist that and the result is an amalgamation of religions into Christianity. The lines get blurred and truth is out the window.
Sadly, if you look in most churches today, you will see this amalgamated Christianity. So much tradition is injected into the congregation that they have made a religion out of something that can't even be one. They believe in Jesus, mind you, but they hold on to practices that keep them involved in the process and allows them to "help" God. This makes Jesus' work incomplete and puts some of the burden back on their shoulders. It's our natural, read sinful, inclination. What we have to stop doing, as the body of Christ, is quit mixing in religion or pop-psychology into Christianity. Stop blending Oprah's pop psycho-ology into our thoughts. Stop thinking you are a good person apart from Christ. Stop thinking you have anything to offer to God. Stop believing Joel Osteen. Don't worry about what Rick Warren says your 'purpose' is. Quit looking for healing. Quit looking for prosperity. Quit the pursuit of anything that is not the fullness of the Gospel in Christ Jesus. Quit looking to fill your needs outside of Christ. Only believe in the one Truth we say we DO believe in. It is Jesus. Nothing else. No doctrine or religious practice or "Christian" book from the "Christian" bookstore or denomination or, or, or..... None of those things trump the power that the Gospel has injected into those of us who believe it. We have everything we keep searching for!! We have patience. We are prosperous. We are healed. We have a purpose. We may not have our best life now, at least by our standards, but we have the promise of our best life. We have been made ALIVE WITH CHRIST! Wake up to the truth that Jesus has accomplished these things! Trust that you have been given these things! Live in that rest and stop asking God for what He has already given you. If you can't do that, then Christianity is not for you. You would be better off doing religion. Christianity is a belief. It is a "done." Religion is a "do." I don't want to do. I want to rest in what is done.
One final thought that has been on my mind lately. This isn't going to be easy. I hear a lot of people say that they are or were a Christian. They either still believe or they don't anymore. What I like to find out is what they actually believe or believed. Only then can a real assessment be made on what they believe the Gospel is and therefore if they actually are or were a Christian. If you believe Jesus died for your sins, attend church and read your Bible, you may not be a Christian. What? Yes. I said it. Yes I'm making a judgement. The people that have said to me that they used to be a Christian have made the statement of belief above. Maybe more unbelievably, that is the same answer I get when I ask a self proclaimed Christian what he believes! But is that the Gospel? No! Here's the undeniable test to see whether or not you are a true Christian. First, come to an understanding of your absolute depravity. You are NOT a good person and you only do evil continuously. You have NOTHING to offer God. If you understand this, you are ready for number two. Second, know that in spite of your horrid state as a person, Jesus Christ completely forgave ALL your sins and offers you life in Himself. He is not looking to change you. He is actually taking your place! It is substitution. It is total replacement. If that is the cool drink of water you needed, then move on to number three. Third, rest. Rest in that Truth.
If you say you are a Christian but don't hold to what has just been said then you are not a Christian. If you claim you were a Christian but didn't believe what has just been said then you never were a Christian. If you DO believe these things about yourself and Jesus then you are or, at least, should be at rest in your life. You know that when God looks at you, He sees His Son. He doesn't see a sinful you that needs to be better, or richer, or wiser, or more spirit-filled! He sees, absolutely, the fullness of His Son IN YOU! This allows you to rest, not work! This takes away the religion that has made its way into our churches. Don't think for a minute that God is waiting for you to do something. He is not waiting for you to offer anything. He has already offered His only Son. Who then lives in and through us. Now you ARE a good person. You don't become one. You are a saint. Co-heirs to the throne. Is that not amazing? If you believe this then you will start telling everyone you know these truths! Whether they say they are a Christian or not. When you are searching for the lost, you may actually have to start at your local church.