When I hear the word religion, I automatically think of the Pharisees. Jesus spoke very boldly to them. Matthew 23:27-28″Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (ESV)
The Pharisees were very religious. They were all talk and no show. There are so many “so-called” Christians that would fall into this category. They are religious, but what does that mean? Is that a bad thing? To be labeled as religious? We tell our agnostic, atheist, genius friends that Christianity is not a religion. I would have once said that, but is it accurate?
Dr. Chad Brand made a great point in class, that Christianity is indeed a religion, because of it’s structure and organization. So why is there a struggle if both are true. Well scripture has a great answer. God defines religion quiet nicely. We see it in James 1:26-27 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” What sets Christianity from all other religions? There are many things, mainly Jesus and his resurrection. But James describes that our religion, if we chose to use that word, should be “pure.”