In this edition of StrateGEMS, Rich contrasts religious behavior modification, the breakdown of morality and the abundant life found in Christ.
John 10:10 (Message Bible) – “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
There is a big difference between religion and the Kingdom of God. By and large, religion is nothing more than man’s feeble attempt to connect with God through a prescribed set of rules and ordinances. The basic premise is that God is Holy and good, but man’s behavior is bad. Man must therefore change his behavior if he is to gain access to God. Religion becomes a means of controlling bad behavior, or at least behavior that is deemed to be bad by those who write the rules.
There are a couple of problems with this idea. First is the notion that man is willing to have his behavior controlled in order to appease God. It seems like it’s easier and much more fun to merely deny that God exists and keep on living my life as I please. Second, we see that man is pretty creative when it comes to making up rules for other people to follow, but not so good at following them himself. All we have to do is look at Washington DC as exhibit A.
Yet, it is true that man has a behavior problem. We are naturally prone to do things that hurt others and ourselves. In the heat of anger or passion, I’d guess that most all of us have the capacity to destroy a life.
So, we are left with a problem. For any society to be healthy, bad behavior must be controlled, and this is why we have laws. However, the question is, who decides what is lawful and unlawful? Whose sets the standards of right and wrong? Are these decisions based on popular opinion or are there moral absolutes?
Not many years ago in this country, we had a commonly accepted standard of morality. Marriage was defined as one man and one woman who pledged to be faithful to one another. It was wrong for one person to take another person’s stuff. Your word was your bond, and when you made a promise to someone, you kept it because lying and cheating were universally frowned upon. This is the code of moral conduct that we find in the Bible.
Today there is a move in the court system to re-define marriage to include two people of the same sex. Over the past couple of years, financial institutions have robbed people of billions of dollars, but nobody is going to jail. Lying and cheating happen every single day at the highest levels of government because apparently it’s just part of what it takes to get elected and stay in power so they can continue to advance their personal agendas.
Truth is, everybody wants to be happy and enjoy a life filled with peace and joy, and this is what God wants for our lives as well. Since He created us, he knows what brings us the most joy. And He blessed us with His Word, which is filled with wisdom on how to live a joy-filled life.
God’s standards of morality were not given to us for any other reason but to bring life to a world that is overflowing with death and corruption. Prov. 19:7 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul.” This isn’t speaking about some kind of dead religious activity. It’s about honoring one another, not living selfishly, but looking out for one another. It’s about loving God and loving others in the same way we want and need to be loved.
We hope you’ll join us again next time, right here on StrateGEMS.