They used to say, “Never discuss politics or religion in polite company.”
Now, the ‘they’ who used to say this used to fill their hours with little else but talk of politics and religion. One would have to conclude that the wise admonition was designed to make sure that you didn’t insult a guest holding a different opinion.
Nowadays, Christians are taught that ‘Religion’ is something a true believer must avoid – no matter the company. It is said to be the stuff of cold orthodox churches devoid of emotion.
Of course, the Bible does not so define it. In fact, James’ definition of ‘Religion’ has not a hint of legalistic doctrines or formalistic worship. He says:“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (Jm.1:27).
Religion is real. Everyone has one, whether they believe it or not.
You may have been asked: “How do you know that yours is the right religion?” I believe that James would recommend that you start by inviting them to judge you. Ask them to give you an honest appraisal of your treatment of societies’ most needy, and to compare the purity of your life with that of unbelievers.
Admittedly, this test hardly occupies first place in the usual doctrinal discourse on how to become a Christian, but it does expose the true outworkings of one’s beliefs.
Religion determines behaviour!
That is not an opinion to be waved off with: “That is your perspective.” It is a fact!
Cast your eyes around the world, the country, the neighbourhood and the family, and you will see religion lived out in all its various forms. Believe me, the way a person treats God is the way they treat their fellow man.
This is most easily observed in one’s speech:
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (Jm.1:26).