Like a glamorous prostitute, whether male or female, with a very familiar scent, a catching voice, a twisted tongue, a crown of stolen jewels, a garment of many colors and revealing accents, such is religion.
If the church bears the image of religion, it is wrong. It will be just a matter of time before people are hurt, disappointed, feeling misled, feeling hopeless.
Everyone who goes after glamour is eventually misled. Everyone who follows what pleases the ears is eventually disappointed. Everyone who relies on his natural senses to determine his next step will soon be in tears. But those who attend to the simplicity that is in Christ, the simplicity revealed by his gospel, their hope in Christ will not fail. Neither in this world. Nor in the one to come.
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Religion is like that leaning tower where everyone is seeking funds to add more floors to it.
It doesn’t matter what’s on the outside. If religion is at the core, it will not last. It doesn’t matter if it’s even religion. If the gospel is at the core, the religion will not stick around long. For the gospel attracts the living as sows hope into the dead, but not the stench that makes the dead feel hopeless.
If you have the accomplishments of religion, you’d be scared to even approach those who bow down to religion.
For myself, today I find comfort in the words of Jesus:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
“ ‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:16-42)
A man wants to be measured by the size of the building he lives in. Most congregations sadly want the same.
Like Israel in her earlier days, is the church entertaining religion as her form of prostitution?
“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3)
Religion is work of the flesh.
Salvation is work of the gospel.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)