When I hear the word ‘religion’ I cringe. I don’t want to say the cliche ‘it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship’ but it’s true. A persons relationship with Christ is pivotal to the Christian faith.
I’ve been thinking a lot about people who think they have a corner on truth. Everyone who worships a certain way says they have the truth. How can we possibly know we are right? Or are we all kind of following along blindly because if we look up, the vast questions can overwhelm us? I’ve always told my children that if we hold the truth then it will be able to stand up to the questions.
I know people much smarter than I am have already tackled these questions so I will focus on the one thing that stands out to me, forgiveness.
Christ came proclaiming to be God (the “I AM” prophesied in Isaiah). While many people try to say he was just a prophet like other religions have, he professed to be God. This gave him the power to forgive sins. He didn’t come saying ‘you have to do this or that in order to follow my religion and gain favor with God’. He said ‘go and sin no more, your sins have been forgiven’. This was the requirement for salvation. To accept forgiveness because after generations of God’s people failing to follow the Commandments, it was obvious no one could make it on their own. To realize that God graciously allowed us to fall on our face to help us see that we can’t do it on our own. We need his help.
We don’t have to pray facing a certain way or a certain number of times per day. We don’t have to wonder if we’re living right because if we don’t we might have to come back as a rat. We don’t have to wonder if we have the truth. No one else could have said ‘go, and sin no more’ with authority other than the God of the universe. We are forgiven and set free and because of that we gladly become slaves of righteousness for His names sake. Not living for our own gain, but to proclaim His name because if we don’t, the rocks will cry out for us.
But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
and let them hear and say, It is true.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God.
Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?”
Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I send to Babylon
and bring them all down as fugitives,
even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
I am the LORD, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.”
Thus says the LORD,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.
“Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
but you have been weary of me, O Israel!
You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,
or honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
or wearied you with frankincense.
You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.
“I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.