The sheer number of religious expressions and ideas in our culture today is truly impressive. Our culture, if nothing else, has an unending variety to choose from as far as what one might believe in.
People seem incurably religious. And, in spite of philosophies like Marxism and worldviews like many forms of evolution, people remain religious. It is just not easy being atheistic. There is indeed that “God shaped vacuum” in the heart of each person. People do want to believe in something, and so they do.
It makes no difference at all what one’s spiritual appetite or preference might be. You could pursue one of the major world religions (each with an impressive number of sub-views) or perhaps one of the “new age” gods (who immigrated from the east) or even one of their spirit cousins who live in the Amazon basin. Or, if all else fails, you could do what many have done and that is to construct your own eclectic god (which seems to be a current favorite). The point is that we can “have it our way” when it comes to religion.
But candidly, the sad reality is that religion, at best, is a temporary panacea for the human soul. I normally would not knowingly agree with Karl Marx. But he did famously state that religion is nothing more than a drug that is bad for people. And with that, I would fundamentally agree. I told one of my granddaughters a few days ago that the worst thing one of the grandkids could say about me is “grandpa is very religious”. I am not (as the term is commonly used).
Religion speaks of us folks trying to get right with God through a variety of means, or trying to make Him happy and accepting of us. This is what religions attempt to do…provide the needed highway to arrive at a good place. I am not religious, but I am righteous. Now understand, this is not some attempt to be clever with words, but it is a 180 degree difference in perspective regarding a person’s relationship with the great Creator Savior. I am righteous because I was given the only kind of righteousness that God accepts. This righteousness is a gift given when a person places their trust in Jesus Christ, the God-man who died and rose bodily from the grave. (Note the key elements of faith in Jesus as it is found in John 20:30-31). Religion cannot and will not produce righteousness.
As a result, I don’t try and win God’s favor and love, since He already loves me and cares about me. I do work at obeying Him (not in order to persuade Him to like me), But I want to obey Him because I am so incredibly grateful for what He has done (in giving me eternal life), is doing (in giving me a guilt free meaningful life here and now) and will do (in giving me a guaranteed entrance into His eternal kingdom). Religion tries hard to do all these things but cannot produce any of them. Religions give techniques, specific works and rules to assist an individual in achieving nirvana, reincarnation, heaven or whatever and to avoid some bad stuff.
But the great question for each is, “am I religious or righteous?” There really is a big difference. Righteousness comes only through Jesus Christ. He Himself said that “no one comes to the Father but through Me.” He also said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”. His claims dismiss all religions. There is no middle ground regarding Jesus. He is who He said He is, and He does what He says He does, or He is certifiably insane. I have made my decision on this matter.