Don’t Call Me Religious

Whatever you do,

don’t call me religious

 

And you might be confused

because I go to church regularly

and I talk about God

and I read my Bible

 

but please

don’t call me religious

 

Because I’m not

 

I am a Follower of Jesus,

the One who said,

 

“I am the WAY

the Truth

and the LIFE…”

 

not ONE of the ways

ONE of the truths

 

He is my LIFE

 

And all the religions of the world

are full of people

 

working their way to God

or to something other than God

 

While I place all my faith

with evidence

on my God who came down for me

 

Religion is ritual

and repetition

and redundant

 

My relationship

with the Lord of the Universe

is new

freeing

and vibrant

 

Religion constantly has its focus on

“What can God do for me?”

 

Relationship with God has its focus on

God

 

Please,

whatever you do,

don’t call me religious

 

for my Jesus

who took on human flesh and humanity

 

reserved His harshest words

for religious people

 

They might have looked pious on the outside

but they were not God-alive on the inside

 

they were dead inside

 

We need Jesus to cleanse us from our sin…

 

Uh oh, I said it,

SIN

 

Who wants to hear that word??

 

But we all know we struggle with it!

Sin, like cancer, eats away at us

 

And God had a plan all along

to save us from the bondage of it

 

He would step into our world

and make the payment for OUR sin

 

by sacrificing His perfect self,

unconditionally loving us

all

along

the

way

 

But He didn’t skimp on words

while He was here

 

and He wanted everyone to know

 

that the Son of God does not stutter

when He says,

 

“NO ONE comes to the Father

except through Me.”

 

No one

 

Not a single

religious

person

 

who is trusting in themselves being religious

to get themselves to God

 

For there is no good deed that wins God’s favor

 

No amount of charity work

or chants

or  going to church

or bowing 10 times…

 

It has always been about God,

not what He can do for me

 

This is not about self-centered religion

but a God-centered life

 

committed to His glory

 

What a free

and abundant

and wonderful way

to live

 

Thank you, Jesus,

for setting me free of

RELIGION

 

~  Susie Stewart

 

Pass this on to everyone you know.  The message is for the whole world.  

 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

~  John 14:6 (NIV)

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

– Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

 

You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.

– Matthew 23:27 (MSG)

 

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

– Romans 10:9 (NIV)

 

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.

– Romans 3:22-26 (NLT)

 

Photo by Andy Stewart

Same Heart, Different Methods

All of us who believe in God

hope to please Him

 

We know when we don’t measure up

 

But, friend, the difference between you and me

is complete dependence on grace

 

We both want the same thing —

rightness before our Creator

 

but you, friend, you chant

and you go through rituals

and you light candles

and you deify humans

and make confessions to them ….

 

relying on what you can do

to earn God’s favor

 

You have faith

but you also are working SO hard

to earn approval

to assuage your guilt

to make amends

 

And it would appear that’s the way

it should be

 

But it’s not

 

Grace is not cheap

and it came with a high price

 

God’s life

 

Chanting

Repeated bowing

Rituals

Religion

 

will never get any of us

closer to heaven

 

Dive deep into inherent Scripture

and find…

 

We can do nothing

to earn His nod

 

But if we humble ourselves

under His mighty hand

 

and accept grace and mercy

bought high-priced

 

we will find freedom

from man-made rules and rituals

 

and just find our Father,

arms open,

complete in love for us

 

And doing right

will come out of love for God,

moved by His great kindness

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time,

– 1 Peter 5:6 (AMP)

 

…but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.

– 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 (AMP)

 

But if it is by grace [God’s unmerited favor], it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace [it would not be a gift but a reward for works].

– Romans 11:6 (AMP)

 

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

– Hebrews 4:14-16 (AMP)

 

Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

– Romans 2:4 (NIV)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Love Obedience

Self-righteous

rule-follower,

what is your motive?

 

Don’t you know it’s impossible

to please God without faith?

 

Fruitless are the actions

of religious law-abiding

 

Righteousness is not righteousness

by adherence to the rules

 

Righteousness is imparted

to the humbled and surrendered

 

Jesus’ perfection

rubbing off on His children

 

The righteous live by faith,

not the flesh

 

Faithless obedience

is only religion

 

Pharisaical

Empty

 

Live by faith

in the Son of God

 

and obey out of love

and true conviction

 

Obey out of love

and faith

 

– Susie Stewart

 

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.

– Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

 

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.

– Matthew 23:27 (NIV)

 

Jesus said to His disciples: If you love Me, you will do as I command.

– John 14:15 (CEV)

 

The test of the genuineness of our love for God’s family lies in this question—do we love God Himself and do we obey His commands? For loving God means obeying His commands, and these commands of His are not burdensome, for God’s “heredity” within us will always conquer the world outside us. In fact, this faith of ours is the only way in which the world has been conquered. For who could ever be said to conquer the world, in the true sense, except the man who really believes that Jesus is God’s Son?

– 1 John 5:204 (PHILLIPS)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

Do and Be

Sometimes when I’m praying, something comes out of my mouth that makes me pause…  It makes me marvel.  Because the Holy Spirit dwells in me there are times when what comes out of my mouth is not at all an original thought from me.  I know it is God teaching me.  He is  using the words that come out of my mouth, as His words to me.  Amazing because HE is the  One I am speaking to.

This morning I sat by our living room window admiring the falling snow of a spring Colorado storm, thinking about God and talking to Him about the beauty outside, about things I’m thankful for, worshiping Him.  Then I said, “Lord, today, help me to DO and to BE.”  Wait, what did I just say?  Help me to Do and to Be.  Yes, that’s right, that’s what I hope for as a Believer in Jesus!

Our days can be so unbalanced sometimes.  Go, go, go.  We hit the ground running and at the end of it all, we drop into bed, only to start it again the next day.  Life is like that.  “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)  BUT I have this to finish, I have that to do, I don’t have time….  Time needs to be found to BE.  Time needs to be found to meditate, to contemplate, to listen.

And what am I DOing, too?  Is what I am doing counting for anything?  Or is it just work and entertaining self…  What of the Kingdom?  The heart of God for the souls of people?  What of that?  Ephesians 2:10 is my husband Andy’s favorite verse, “For we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do.”  That’s the DOing that I want to be about.  I want to be about the good works that my Lord has prepared, in advance mind you, for me to do.  There is purpose in that.

There will always be the “regular” stuff of life, like cleaning bathrooms, and feeding the dog, and pulling weeds.  But can’t those things even be done to the glory of God?  Can we not do those things without a complaining heart, but a grateful one?  I say yes.  When the Spirit of the living God is living inside of you, He can even make a prison cell a place of worship and praise.  Ask Paul.  Ask Peter.  Ask the Believers who are currently in prison cells in dark places around the world right now.

As humans, I don’t think we’ll ever get the balance of DOing and BEing just right.  But submitting to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to speak to us, to love us, to minister to us, to teach us before we head out into the go, go, go makes all the difference in the world.  It will help us to listen for His voice that enables us to BE in the middle of busyness.

BEing is deliberate.  DOing is also deliberate.  I think a person can go throughout their entire day and do neither.  I want to BE before God and I want to DO what He has prepared for me.  Awareness, a listening heart, saying no to things that steal my heart away from the Way, the Truth and the Life….

Jesus, show me what I should be doing today as I abide in You.  (John 15)

– Susie Stewart

Photo taken by Susie Stewart