One of the first objections to Church and organized religion is this question; does religion really matter? Does it really matter what you believe? Does it make a difference? This question stems from our modern sensibilities regarding faith and tolerance. Tolerance simply means to allow others to practice as they please, without interference. But more recently, acceptance has been masquerading as tolerance. Now tolerance means that you accept, if not embrace, the beliefs of another person, because to resist such acceptance labels you as “intolerant” and a “bigot.” Take for example the homosexual agenda. The Homosexuals, their associations of political groups and so on, demand tolerance of their lifestyle, when in reality they demand acceptance. They don’t want straight people merely to tolerate their behavior, but to accept them as equals, with as much right to practice their brand of affection in the public square as heterosexuals. They demand celebration by those that don’t share their “beliefs” in allowing them to celebrate their “weddings” and their victory over the traditional family and decency.
But let me step back to the position of one who would just as soon have nothing to do with religion, thinking that all religions are bunk and worthless, if not dangerous. Remember 9/11? That wasn’t an inside job, it was a religious job. Remember Waco? That was a religious nut making trouble, and an angry government response. Remember 12/31/1999? A lot of people were afraid because they thought that was going to be the end of the world! Why? Because of their religion. How can religion be so dangerous? Because religion is about beliefs, and beliefs matter.
Organized religion is defined as a system of beliefs organized for the practice of its believers. Every religion has one. And anyone who tells you that he doesn’t do organized religion, but goes off to a mountaintop or hillside to pray is lying to you. If a person doesn’t buy in to a “organized” religion, he will make up one of his own. Religions inherently follow rules. It is built in to them. Even a person that says his religion doesn’t have rules just made a rule. “No rules!” is a rule unto itself. Why does the person who eschews organized religion have to go to the hillside to pray? Hmmm? Sounds like a rule to me. And it sounds like an organized religion.
Back to our original question: does religion matter? Using our above definition, let me re-ask the question. Do beliefs matter? Does what you believe about how the world works and how people act and react matter? A belief is anything that cannot be proven absolutely with evidence. I believe that the chair I’m sitting on will not collapse from under me. I can’t prove it, despite all the evidence of sitting down, because I know all things wear out (2nd law of thermodynamics), and one day, this chair will collapse. Therefore, I believe that this chair will not collapse as I am sitting on it.
I believe the world will always spin, that I will always be held to the earth, that my wife and my children love me, and that the sun will come up in the morning. Is that religion? You can make a religion out of anything. All religion requires is someone to put it all together into an organized structure. Atheism is a religion, just as any other system of beliefs is. But there’s one element I forgot that make the real difference between mere beliefs, and religion, and that is Faith. Faith is a devotion to your beliefs that is so strong, you cannot be shaken from them. And Faith usually finds the strongest belief and clings to it.
For the most part, when a person says, religion doesn’t matter, what they are really saying is, “I refuse to believe in Christianity” because Christianity demands change. Why is Christianity always the one that stands in everybody’s way? Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He makes the difference between mere beliefs, an organized philosophy, and Truth.
Religion does too matter. Don’t kid yourself. We define ourselves by our beliefs. We are who we because of our beliefs. If you choose to ground your self in loose and broken beliefs, that’s your own business, I suppose. But if you choose to ground your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will not be disappointed.