What is the meaning of religion?
Religion is a fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a group of people. These set of beliefs concern the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, and involve devotional and ritual observances. They also often contain a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
Ever since the world began, man has demonstrated a natural inclination towards faith and worship of anything he considered superior/difficult to understand. His religion consisted of trying to appease and get favors from the supreme being he feared. This resulted in performing rituals (some of them barbaric) and keeping traditions or laws to earn goodness and/or everlasting life.
Christianity has always stressed a personal relationship with God as the touchstone of religion. When God created Adam and Eve, He walked with them in the Garden of Eden, in the cool of the day, and enjoyed their fellowship. Religion was, and still is, a close, personal, and satisfying relationship with the creator God.
Down through the ages men have devoted their entire life to enjoying this personal relationship with a God who loves the fellowship of human beings. Abraham was called the ‘friend of God’ in 2 Chronicles 20:7 and James 2:23. Genesis 18:17 -- “Then the Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?’” Exodus 33:11 says, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” David is called a man after God’s own heart in 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22. The list is endless.
Blaise Pascal (French Mathematician, Philosopher, and Physicist 1623-1662) said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the creator, made known through Jesus.”
Christianity is more than a religion; it is a relationship with Jesus Christ. John 15:9 says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now continue in my love.” John 15:15, “I have called you friends.” John 17:24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am.” John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” In John 10, Jesus makes several statements demonstrating His deep love for us -- “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I know my sheep and my sheep know me -- and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Jesus summarized the true meaning of religion in Matthew 22:37-40, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
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