Playing the part, neglecting the heart

This week I’ve been talking about when we try to satisfy our deepest spiritual appetites with things or people who aren’t God.

Today let me share one last idea. This is something people do to satisfy their spiritual cravings, but in so doing miss the point.

It’s religion.

Wait, isn’t religion good? Yes it is. But not if it’s just about rituals and going through the motions—standing and sitting at the right moments, looking the part, showing up to church 80% of the time, tithing 10% of your income, having a Bible on the coffee table, or saying the right things to the right people.

If we think that our faith is all about external religious performance, then we’ve become distracted. Our religion should facilitate our relationship with God as we seek to know him better, walk in his ways, and love the people around us.

In 2 Timothy 3:5 Paul warned of a certain kind of person: “having a form of godliness but denying its power…” 

A form of godliness. But denying its power. Not good.

The word ‘religion’ comes from the same Latin root as ‘ligament,’ meaning ‘to bind.’ In this sense, ‘religion’ refers to a system of beliefs and practices that ‘bind’ us to God and other people in a community.

That’s a beautiful thing. If our religion helps us do that, awesome. If it doesn’t, and if it actually keeps us from doing that, we need to examine our motives and invite God back to the centre of our hearts, minds, and practices.

In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Let’s ensure that our religion is always about opening the door to the living Jesus, and not about keeping him out.

Jesus is the relationship that brings all other relationships to life.


New ARTICLE. “The difference between self-comfort and self-care and why it matters.” This is an article I wrote with therapist Sarah J Covey. It’s a tough time. After 2.5 years of a pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, non-stop news cycles and other stresses, many are gasping for air. But if you think you’re caring for yourself when you’re really just comforting yourself, you may be creating more grief than gain. Hopefully this short article offers some practical help in the right direction

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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