Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Faith vs. Religion

Belief and religion are two things that are a part of the human experience. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have both. Belief being opinions and theories about the meaning of life, purpose, and things beyond the reality we experience with our senses; and religions being the systems or ways of living we develop to deal with the guilt fear and shame that our beliefs induce in us.

The most basic beliefs of humanity are all related to something higher than us. A power, gods, or a god that is somehow responsible for things being. Even those who have turned to a belief in no god admit that this basic understanding is there, they simply have to write it away as an illusion… because it is something every person senses at their core. The second aspect that is universal to all people is the sense that there is a proper order to the universe—a correct way to live—that we all fail to achieve. We know that we do not measure up to our own most honest standards, let alone those of some greater being.

These two basic instincts are what have driven every person that has ever lived to create, or to follow, a religious system. Religions are all man-made attempts to appease our short-comings. At the very least they are ways we learn to cope with the punishment we sense that we deserve for failing to live the way we should. They either offer up things we can do to fulfill our purpose, to pay for our shortcomings, or to ignore them as false altogether.

Faith, the way it is presented in the Bible, is an alternative to religion. Even though the revelation the Bible presents uses at times religious language, and even though religious systems were used to get the message across, it is not like any other man-made religion.

The Bible tells us that the universal beliefs all mankind share are based in reality. There is a God who has made everything that is, and He has a law to which all creation should hold itself. We have failed that expectation by rejecting God’s rule and attempting to live life our own way. The guilt, fear, and shame we all feel are a result of this rebellion. However, the solution to our problem is not to do something to fix it. We cannot hope to make things better.

Instead, God has done everything needed to correct the situation. Our sole response to God is to trust Him and to allow Him to make things right in our life. Trust and follow. The punishment for breaking God’s law has been taken on by Jesus Christ. The way to live correctly is something He is prepared to show us as we live our lives in a repaired relationship with Him. We accept His forgiveness and live every day following the truth we discover as He reveals it.

This is the basic distinction between Faith and Religion.

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