The Case For Organized Religion

In recent years it has become a popular thing to declare one’s freedom from organized religion.

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While some declare they have proudly walked away from the church, others declare they are no longer Christians, but Christ followers. You get the general idea.

What is interesting about all of this independence, is that the Christ they claim to be following away from organized religion, worked just fine within the confines of organized religion.

  • He kept the Passover.
  • He celebrated the feasts and special days.
  • He followed the Jewish Law.
  • He honored the Sabbath.

We never find Jesus resisting organized religion. What He did resist was the abuse of organized religion by arrogant, prideful, abusive religions leaders.

It’s fair to say that many times when someone proudly walks away from organized religion, it is not religion itself that is the problem.

More often than not, the problem is two selfish sinners (a church member & a religious leader) who choose not to take care of business the way the Bible instructs them too.

In other words, two sinners who are not getting their own way.

The danger in stepping outside the boundaries of organized religion, is that it opens us up to error, isolation, lack of accountability and false teaching.

Every church is going to have struggles and flaws because it’s a divinely decreed organization trying to operate in a cursed and fallen world. But it’s positives far outweigh its faults!

Organized religion provides us with:

I. Solid Doctrine

We define doctrine as a body of knowledge about a certain topic or belief.

While Christ sealed our eternal destiny, the Apostle Paul tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

He is telling us that our growth as Christians is our own responsibility.

Our spiritual growth is one reason it is so important that we avail ourselves of the solid doctrine presented through Bible believing churches.

When we step away from the organized church, we open ourselves up to doctrinal error and cultism.

II.  Accountability

We can’t just walk away from 2,000 years of Christian values and tradition!

For many, organized religion is automatically equated with legalism. Could I go so far as to say that in some instances legalism is of great value?

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When I first became a Christian, I needed the structure and accountability of organized religion to help me overcome some of the personal struggles that I was facing as I tried to break free of my past.

Recent studies show that millennials are beginning to return to organized religion because of the structure and discipline it offers. They are looking to old mainline denominational churches that offer traditional services and values.

[bctt tweet=”Potentially, every person can benefit from what organized religion has to offer.” username=”michaelkduff”]

III. Biblical Teaching

When someone walks away from a Bible believing church, they step away from Biblical teaching. Often they begin to interpret the Bible according to their own desires and needs.

One of the greatest benefits of Biblical preaching and teaching is that it brings us face to face with ourselves! It challenges our thinking and causes us to check our thoughts and actions.

God has commanded the preaching and teaching of the Bible to protect us from sin and error in this life. Biblical teaching will warn us and make us aware of the pitfalls in life. It is as Proverbs says, A lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path! (Psalm 119:105)

I hope you are not quite ready to give up on organized religion. Potentially, every person can benefit from what organized religion has to offer.

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How different would our world be if instead of walking away from organized religion, we asked, “How can we allow it to have a greater impact on future generations?”

 

What value do you find in organized religion?

Our Greatest Need

In a small cemetery not far from New York City there is a very unusual grave and headstone. The headstone has no carvings or embellishments. There is no name, no date of birth or death. It is inscribed with one simple word: FORGIVEN.

For1An unknown author wrote this: “…our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.”

All to often we fail to give consideration to what an incredible gift God has given us, when like the man buried in the unmarked grave, we are forgiven!

Let’s consider what a great miracle forgiveness really is.

I.   Forgiveness Fulfills Our Greatest Need

Psychiatrist Karl Menninger once said that if he could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75 percent of them could walk out the next day!

The guilt of our sin is a heavy load to bear.

In John Bunyan’s book Pilgrims Progress, the character Pilgrim is introduced seeking a way to get the heavy load of guilt off his back. He eventually carries his burden to the cross where it falls off, rolls down the hill and disappears into a cave never to be seen again.

Forgiveness set him free from his burden and it is what will set us free. Forgiveness means our greatest need has been met in Christ!

Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

The problem is that many of us travel great distances searching for the sins God has removed from us.[bctt tweet=”Many of us travel great distances searching for the sins God has removed from us.” username=”michaelkduff”]

II.   Forgiveness Is The Most Costly Gift We Will Ever Receive

It’s odd how the longer we are Christians, the more we tend to forget the price Christ paid for us to be forgiven.

Here is the cost of our forgiveness;

I Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

God willingly and lovingly gave His Son that our sin might be forgiven. Think of the horror He could have unleashed upon the men who were preparing to kill His Son.

Now think of the love required to stand by and do nothing so that we might be forgiven.

III.   Forgiveness Brings Us The Greatest Blessings

It is forgiveness that brings us into a proper relationship with God. When we are right with God we are blessed regardless of our circumstances.

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) are filled with examples of people who are blessed in the midst of trials. The people in these verses are poor, hungry, persecuted, have lost loved ones, and yet Christ says that they are blessed.

Why? Because like us their hope was not in this world!

I Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

IV.   Forgiveness Is Eternal

Mark 2:12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

As amazing as this miracle was, there would come a day that this man would no longer walk. There was a day that Bartameaus could no longer see. There was a day when Lazarus returned to the tomb. But the true miracle that Christ did in each of their lives continues to this day!

One day, just like these men, we will stand before God, healed, justified and forgiven of our sins.

How thankful do you think all of heaven is for that forgiveness? Let’s not wait for heaven to express thankfulness!

You have been forgiven! Christ has performed the greatest miracle ever known on us! We are forgiven!

Won’t you take a moment to thank Him for that forgiveness right now?

If you have not yet received that forgiveness, please send me a comment and I would love to correspond with you about it!

An Eight Track Mind

Do you remember eight track tapes?

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I won’t even try to remember what year it was, but I do remember the day that the furniture store delivered our new console entertainment system! It had an FM receiver, a turn table and (wait for it) an eight track tape player!

Even more exciting than the technological wonder before me, the store had left a demo tape in the player, Jimmi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsies – SCORE! A bonus Janice Joplin tape was discovered in the storage area.

Have patience, I’m a pastor and you know the spiritual application is coming!

A couple weeks ago when my pastor was speaking about how memories were recorded like cassette tapes in our minds. I chuckled and thought, “For some of us its more like eight track tapes.”

That kicked off a flood of thoughts about how old and hurtful memories are like a box full of eight track tapes kept in the attic. We don’t really know why, but every once in a while we climb up, pull one out and play it.

Most of the time what we keep in the box is worthless and there is no real benefit to getting that stuff out. Here’s why.

Like a box full of eight track tapes:

I. Hurtful Memories Are Outdated

The only thing that can be listened to on eight track tapes are oldies. What is on the tape has been played over and over again until it has worn out. Nothing new has been recorded on eight tracks in many years.

Most of the memories that hurt us are oldies. We have rehearsed them over and over, sometimes for years. The problem is, unlike a tape that eventually wears out, these memories will play over and over until they wear us out.

The burden, the pain, and the guilt can weigh on us emotionally, physically and spiritually.

II. Hurtful Memories Are Expensive

ET1An eight track tape can only be played at great expense. There is only one way to play them and that is on technology that is 40 years old.

If you can find an eight track player in good working condition it is probably worth more that its original cost.

When we pull a hurtful memory from our box in the attic, we do so at great expense. If we allow our thoughts to drift to a hurt from years ago, it can cost us our present and corrupt our future.

It’s amazing the high price we are willing to pay to hold onto our memories.

We make the decision how high a price we are willing to pay.

III. Hurtful Memories Are Poor Quality

At this point in time, any eight track tape is over 40 years old. Over time, the magnetic tape that holds the recording begins to break down and stretch.

As a result the recording (not that great to begin with) becomes distorted. Eventually the tape will become inaudible or break. If you were there, you remember splicing tapes!

The more we replay harmful memories the more they deteriorate in quality. As the facts become more and more distorted we tend to splice in our own interpretation of what happened.

We add to and embellish the story. We demonize the people involved. Eventually the story has little resemblance to the original event.

Because we are sinners born into a broken sinful world, we have all been provided with a box full of old hurtful memories. Most of us struggle not to replay them over and over every day.

How can we break the cycle?

Discipline Your Thoughts – you are the only one that can load the tape.

A counselor once said, “We must learn to speak to ourselves rather than listening to ourselves.” When the distorted, outdated, hurtful thoughts begin to play, speak truth to yourself about how God sees you and loves you.

Focus On Better Things – this verse is a great example for us, Philippians 4:8

Work Hard To Forgive – Most of the hurtful memories we have are effective against us because we refuse to forgive someone who has hurt us. The tape will always be in the box, but when we truly forgive, we have nothing to play the tape on.

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Which of the three steps above can you take today, to stop replaying hurtful memories.

If this has been a help to you please share it with your network or leave a comment below.