Location: New England, United States

Sunday, October 30, 2005

It Was Never About Religion

In my last post, I wrote about the constraints placed on our relationship with God by organized religion. Paul said, " For you were called to freedom, brethren; "Galatians 5:13 RSV Jesus came not to bind us up, but to set us free. It is freedom that allows the abundance that Jesus promised.

The word 'religion' originated in the ancient Latin word ' religio' meaning taboo or restraint. The literal breakdown of the word is 're' which means to return and 'liagre' which means 'to bind.' So, the actual meaning of religion is to - "return to bondage."

Allow me to portray one such religion. This religion originated in Rome centuries ago and still exists today in Italy and many other areas. This religion includes the worship of a god, however, during the month of May, its main focus is the worship of the 'Mother of Heaven and Earth'. During the worship service, candles are lit on each side of the altar. The priest uses incense to perform his rituals before the statue of the Mother of Heaven and Earth. Then the Mother is crowned with a crown of gold or one made of flowers. Celibate, women initiates wear white, crescent- shaped head dresses which they then cover with white or black veils. The women kneel before the statue of the Mother chanting prescribed prayers that proclaim the glory of the Mother and beseech her for blessings. This religion may sound familiar to you - it is the religion of Diana as practiced in Ephesus during Paul's ministry there and is considered a pagan religion by the followers of Jesus.

Beware of religion. Although its organization can "bind a group of believers" in a common faith, it can also be used as an impediment to a real, personal relationship with God. Pray for discernment, for your spiritual growth is your responsibility.

" O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? " Galatians 3:1-3 RSV


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