Religion is a strange thing. Some denounce it as a crutch. Some tout religion as the spiritual release for mankind. Yet others see it as the foundation from which mankind draws morality. Nevertheless, none of these philosophies identify with the bare truth. Religion has never been what God wants from us nor is it how He relates to us.
Much of religion is still focused upon mortal existence, a “how to” book for man:
- How to live a better life
- How to rear a good family
- How to be a good neighbor and earn credibility in your community
- How to succeed
- How to connect with the spiritual world
None of these attitudes or desires will have eternal consequence, nor are they oriented toward personal and eternal spiritual existence. Their focus is still temporal.
Religion began as a desire to know and live with deity. That spiritual focus is rightly directed but has been greatly distorted just as religion itself has been made malignant.
Spiritually focused, religion looks outside of man at intangible elements for motivation and guidance. We assent to intangible forces when we recognize emotional responses inspire us; imagination and abstract thought can develop physical action. When you love someone you do things for them, get flowers, get a box of candy, take someone to dinner, etc. Everyone envisions utopia in some form. “In my world, everyone likes me.” “Just connect with your inner self.” These concepts are intangible. Man recognizes there is a spiritual force within him (mind, body, spirit Grasshopper) and understands it must be more prolific even than he can understand. There is a more rewarding existence somewhere and man naturally seeks it, just as the spider is driven to weave the web.
Spiritual awareness brings about another thought – Is there one being in charge of the whole spiritual world? Is there “a” God? Understandably, any being from the spiritual world might seem godlike to man. We can certainly understand how man has been so easily deceived. However, we wonder if there is “a” God, what is He like. Where does He live? If His environment is better than ours (no pain, no suffering, no death, no hate), then can we get there? The answer is, yes.
John 3:16, a very famous and oft quoted text in the Bible tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever shall believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Believers in the Son of God have eternal life. There is life outside this world and it will last an eternity. Why would God provide for an eternal life for mankind though? Many ask individually, “Why me?”
Love is the answer. God loves His creation and you are part of it. He loves His children with a perfect love far above any earthly standard. The pinnacle of His creation is man. Because He made man in His image, and for a greater purpose than the rest of creation, He made provision for man to exist eternally with Him in Heaven. Those that ask, “Why me?” understand something greater.
Many scoff at such lavish thoughts. They know mankind is not worthy. Some cannot see God’s love. In one sense, they consider the spiritual truth that man is selfish. In the other, they only concentrate on the negatives of physical existence (the existence of death, disease and pain); therefore, God cannot be a loving God. Man wants more than the world’s chaos but contemplates from a restricted finite existence. We have to come to terms with the fact that just as an intangible (personal desire) force motivates mankind’s temporal world (how to comfort/improve ourselves), we should realize that an intangible (love) force is the predominant motivation for the spiritual world (how to provide for eternal existence with God). In the former, man spends His life working to achieve. In the latter, God has already provided for salvation in His gracious affection.
God loves you. God loves His whole creation. He has made special allowances for mankind’s continued and eternal life with Him in Heaven. Since time began, God has had a plan in place that He carefully orchestrated to bring you to this point, maybe even reading this article. God’s love has no bounds, temporally or chronologically. God gave Himself for you out of love (Galatians 2:20).
God’s love is selfless, philanthropic and benevolent. Those words still do not describe His love’s depth. He commits resources, He applies His talents, exercises timeless forbearance and He literally ransomed Himself to pay our way into His Kingdom (1 Timothy 2:6). John 3:16 (above) says, “believe in Him.” Those who have faith in the Son of God for who He is, what He did and where He is now have had their debt paid (Romans 4:5).
It goes further. God does this for each person. It is a personal and direct love that cares for each one’s individual needs, concerns, and spiritual debt (1 John 2:12). Though the Son of God died for all mankind (Romans 3:23-25), His love for you is so great He died for and prepared a place in His kingdom for you individually (Matthew 25:34).
Ladies and gentlemen, religion is not supposed to be about things in the world. In the beginning, religion was about a personal relationship and communion with a loving God. It is supposed to be about worshiping a loving God with a view to eternity. You can experience God’s love. Christianity still focuses on that original selfless and unmerited love.