I Don’t Think We Define “Religion” Fairly

Thoughts which pull me towards Jesus and to His cross

Give thanks to the God of heaven; his love is eternal.  Psalm 136:26 GNT

3 God’s divine power has given us everything we need to live a truly religious life through our knowledge of the one who called us to share in his own glory and goodness. 4In this way he has given us the very great and precious gifts he promised, so that by means of these gifts you may escape from the destructive lust that is in the world, and may come to share the divine nature.  2 Peter 1:3-4 GNT

When religion has done all it can, you are still a sinner who either went to church or did not go to church. Religion can put us on the roll and educate us and train us and instruct us. But after all that, there is still something within our beings that cries, “Eternity is in my heart and I have not found anything to satisfy it!”
Only our Lord Jesus Christ is enough to satisfy the eternal longing in our souls.

829      Tell Our Lord that from now on, every time you celebrate Mass or attend it, and every time you administer or receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist, you will do so with a great faith, with a burning love, just as if it were to be the last time in your life. And be sorry for the carelessness of your past life.

As I read the words of Tozer this morning, I hear the echoes of posts on twitter, facebook and even conversations of people who lament the “organized church” My first reaction is, “cone to Concordia – we aren’t organized, we throve on chaos!”.

But then I heard the complaint, and I hear myself 20-25 years ago, and then I read Tozer and then Luther…

Things aren’t changing, except maybe pastors and people feel more free to critique from behind the wall of social media.

What they don’t realize is that as they define the church, as they define the organized structure, they are forgetting to include the fact that God can only work through broken groups of people. There is no perfect church, organized, unorganized, meeting in nearly empty cathedrals or a neighborhood garage. Tozer’s comment about Jesus being the only thing that can satisfy the enteral longing… has to include the pronuon “our”–it cannot use the pronoun “my”.

And as long as it is “our”, there will be hurt and pain along the way, there may be sin and even betrayal. Some may say that this is the cost or the sacrifice we have to make. What we have to tolerate and endure. I would disagree, the brokenness is a blessing, for as we see it healed we are in awe of the love of God. This is the nature of our communion – it is the natural outcome of sharing in His love together. This is what it means to live a “religious life” not to avoid the brokenness–but to embrace it – so that we may see it healed, and the new life come out of the old.

A. W. Tozer and Gerald B. Smith, Mornings with Tozer: Daily Devotional Readings (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008).

Escrivá, Josemaría. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on October 9, 2023, in Devotions. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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