forms of religion

I’m looking through my moleskin notebook and found this little tidbit I wrote in it. Sometimes I write quotes I like. Sometimes I have thoughts connected to the particular book I’m reading. Sometimes a book shoots me off in another direction. Sometimes I’m staring at a tree or bird and have thought.

The following is one of the above.

There are two forms of religion:
1. Being Right and Securing power
2. Serving God and Reflecting him

This stands out to me because I’ve been wondering how people can share the same basic fundamental beliefs but hardly in any way share the same real faith. There are, I’ve noticed, a lot of Christians whose religion I don’t share. Only we affirm the same basic doctrine and we call ourselves Christians. But they’re almost entirely Christians for a different reason I am.

Certainly there’s a dynamic too. Not everyone is fully one or the other. But the extremes clash even worse than other religions clashing, because each claims orthodoxy and each asserts heresy to the other.

In James 1:27 we read “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.”

Which rings more of the second than the first. But I’m thinking that most of Christendom was the first and Evangelicalism itself (which I’m still determining if I’m part of anymore) is a mix of both, depending on the church, leader, or topic.

Jesus I think wants us all to be of the second. He wants our obedience, service, and reflection. The rest? That’s for us when it comes down to it. Even when we forcefully crush an opponent beneath the weight of perfectly chosen Scripture. It often has very little to do with God.

But it looks, sounds, feels like real Christian religion, doesn’t it? Only it tastes like dust and poisons growth, bringing only anger, division and separation.

The second form might seem more passive, be less exact, and be more fluid. But it brings people closer to God, revealing him to this world as he desires, not as we want him to be revealed.

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