It’s time to stop playing a rigged game

This blog is about religion! Today, I’m going to try to convince you to abandon your religion. Religion is a game that is rigged to cause you to fail. It may surprise you that a pastor would be the strongest opponent of religion.  I hate religion with every ounce of my being! The false religious systems that I’ve seen enslave people and destroy their lives.  Now that I’ve got your attention, let me explain what I mean by religion…

Almost every faith system in the world prescribes a set of rules. These rules are the standards by which someone is judged. In most of the world’s largest religions, these rules determine your afterlife. These rules are the standard that separates a “good” person from a “bad” person. I consider myself a Christian. This is how I identify myself. However, I don’t use the word Christian to refer to my religion, because some people who don’t understand the essence of what the Bible teaches have co-opted Christianity and turned it into a false religion. When asked about my religion, I genuinely don’t have a good answer. I usually tell people that I don’t have a religion. The only way I know how to answer this question is to tell them that I belong to Jesus.  

How to play the game

Those that don’t understand the essence of Christianity have turned it into a dead religion by creating a set of rules to follow.  Christianity can never be boiled down to a simple set of rules. At its essence, all Christians are in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, the word Christianwas originally used as a derogatory term. Christianwas used by people outside the faith to make fun of the followers of Jesus. This word was used to criticize people who so radically committed to Jesus that they were considered “little Christs”.  This is the original meaning behind the word Christian. 

As you can see from this brief explanation of the origin for the word Christianity, it was impossible to associate these people with a simple set of rules. No one misunderstood Christianity in the early church to be limited to following a set of rules. From the very beginning, the word Christian always referred to somebody who was radically changed by his or her relationship with Christ.  

How to win at the game

This is where the key difference lies between Christianity and all other world religions. Christianity doesn’t teach a set of rules for someone to follow. Christianity offers a relationship with God that is life-changing. It is only after someone has entered into this relationship that his or her life begins to change. Essentially, every other world religion has it backward. Religion demands a changed life that will ultimately lead to a changed heart. Christianity says only through a changed heart can one’s life be changed.  

Now do you see that religion operates by an entirely different set of rules than Christianity? Now can you see how the rules of the game are radically different between Christianity and religion?  When Christianity is properly understood, it should cause everyone to ask the question, is this true? There is no way that Christianity can be placed alongside the other world religions. Therefore, when considering what it means to become a Christian, one must ask the question, which one is true? Following the rules of religion or entering into a life-changing relationship with Christ?  This question is why I am so hostile toward religion. There is no middle ground in this debate. Either you are religious, or you are a Christian. You cannot be both when you properly understand what the rules of religion expect of you.

Living by a new set of rules

I challenge you to learn to live by a new set of rules. If you are going to become a Christian, it’s going to require that you break the rules of religion.  When the religious leaders were trying to condemn Jesus, they set a trap by asking him about the religious rules in Matthew 22:34-40.  This is a fascinating encounter to me because in one simple statement Jesus redefines the rules for getting to Heaven. Jesus says that the only rule that you need to follow is love God with your entire being. It’s even more fascinating to me that he likens the second rule to the first… Meaning that if you are accomplishing the first, you will naturally do the second, and vice versa.

The only way to win at the game of religion is to break all of the rules! Love is the only rule that Jesus demands of his people. Don’t take this lightly; the kind of love that Jesus demands is an all-encompassing, absolute loyalty to God the Father.  This kind of love only comes when your heart is transformed- meaning you can’t create this kind of love on your own; you’re going to need divine help. After reading this blog, if you realize you’ve been trapped by a religious leader into following a set of rules, I want to offer you freedom today. I want to offer you a chance to break the rules and throw off the chains of religion and find a genuine life-transforming relationship with God the father through his son, Jesus Christ. I want to challenge you to surrender your heart to Jesus right now. You can do this through a simple prayer: Dear God, I need your help.  I realize I need a new heart.  I have been living by the rules of a dead religion. Today I ask to transform my heart. I need your help to live a good life.  I believe you sent your son, Jesus, to Earth because you love me and want to spend eternity with me. His death on the cross paid the penalty for my sins. I believe his resurrection guarantees me the promise of eternal life. I surrender to you today. I place my future in your hands. Amen.   If you’ve just surrendered to Jesus by praying like this for the first time, our church would like to follow up with you. We’d like to encourage you and help you get plugged in to a good church somewhere. Email us- cbc@calvaryministries.com.

Further reading