Religion vs. Self-Realization?

Jesus declared that He went to the cross because: the world must know that I do just as the Father has commanded me. (John 14:31)

The word “religion” gets used frequently enough.  But do we clearly understand what the word means?

elgrecochristcrossThese days, religion is often defined as, “a particular system of faith and worship,” as if all the world’s particular “religions” fit into a neat category.

Or the word “religion” is used to mean some interest or activity of mine, to which I give top priority—as if religion were something that I make.

But neither of these definitions captures the meaning of the word.  Religion means:  my response to God, my obligation to try to give to God what I owe Him.

I think the great divide in the world is not between men and women, or cat people and dog people, or Republicans and Democrats, or even between Christians and Muslims.  I think the great divide lies between these two fundamental guiding principles:  1) Life means obedience to the Creator, which offers peace and happiness.  Or: 2) Life means inventing myself, which offers real individuality.

What we say is this:  Jesus practiced, revealed, and is true religion.  And the true religion that is Jesus’ life means peace, happiness, and self-realization.

What distinguishes Jesus Christ as our Savior?  What makes Jesus—and not Mahatma Gandhi, or Michael Jordan, or King Louis XIV, or anyone else—our Savior?  Fundamentally, it is Christ’s obedience.  His obedience to the Father’s will.  God had revealed His will in the Law of the Old Covenant—but only in shadows.  Christ went to the cross fundamentally because:  it was the perfect fulfillment of the Father’s will.

Christ’s obedience redeemed us from the consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience.  We, the human race, taken as a whole, let ourselves get side-tracked by a particular delusion.  Namely that there could be more to life than simply being obedient children of the heavenly Father.  Because of this Fall, we face inevitable death.

Christ, in embracing death on behalf of all of us, justly condemned to death for under-estimating ourselves, has revealed what we really can be:  ourselves in full; our own fearless selves; ourselves eternal.  Our heavenly Father wills only that we would be glorious.  Religion—that is, sharing in Jesus’ obedience—means becoming our glorious selves.

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