Is Christianity a Religion?

Is Christianity a Religion?

Recently I have heard many people talk about "religion" as if religion is synonomous with Christianity. I have heard people describe others as being "very religious." I have also heard people say that they do not go to church but they practice "their religion at home."

A few words ought to be said about religion before we as Christians simply throw it around in our everyday vocabulary as I have done above. First of all you must understand that the word "religion" refers to what we do in service of God and others. For example it is religious to go to church, to sing praises to God, to help our neighbor when he or she is in need, and to do all the things the ten commandments describe. All of us would agree that what I have just said is good, right, and salutary.

Yet, Muslims, Hindus, Budhists, Toaists, etc. are all equally religious. All these "belief systems" require much on the part of their followers in service to their gods and fellow people. As Christians we are appalled because they are worshipping false gods in the name of practicing religion. In fact their gods tell them to do much the same as our Christian God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to whom is all praise, tells us to do.

I hope you see from the above why as Christians we do not wish to be labled merely another religion. In fact as Christians, we know that our religious practices will not save us. There will be countless "religious people" in hell. They will be surprised to find themselves there because they thought they practiced their religion for their own benefit. Isaiah 64:6 says, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." The word "righteous" in the previous sentence is more ore less equivalent with the word "religious." The meaning is clear namely religion can save noone.

Instead Christianity, claims not to be a religion, or simply another set of beliefs and practices, but instead the kingdom of Christ. Christianity is Christ and His work among us (religion is our work). Christianity is about how Christ saved people in Old and New Testament. Ultimately it is about Jesus coming and saving us by living among us, dying on the cross for all of our sins, and rising to give us eternal life.

None of us can claim that we contributed to our own salvation. After all, none of us were even alive when our salvation was won by Jesus. Infant baptism is a testament to Christianity's understanding that it is God who saves us and not us. An infant does nothing. God does everything.

Now with this said, Christians are called to be religious. Because we are saved and because our faith connects us with Jesus, we now desire to practice religion. In fact James, has a mouthful to say about the religion that we are to practice as saved Christians: "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." He even says that "faith without works is dead."

So is Christianity a religion? No! Instead, it is a people believing in Jesus who in turn practice religion because they believe in Jesus. The opposite is not always true. So as Christians when we see people who are not religious the solution is not to simply to tell them to start doing good. No the solution is to go to the heart to tell them what they have failed to do (law) and to then remind them how Jesus (Good News) came to die for theirs as well as your own shortcomings. In turn, good works and religion will naturally follow. To simply demand religion will simply make filthy ragged religious people! Christians give people Christ not simply more long lists of religion that they will have even further trouble carrying out.

Pastor James Travis