What Is A False Religion?

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Isaiah 5:21

A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper. Proverbs 28:25

He said to them, “You are the ones who justify your selves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly prized among men is detestable to God.” Luke: 16:15

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. 2 Peter 2:1

Since Lucifer fell, and for as long as man has had the benefit of choice, there have been gods and demons vying for our worship. I suggest that any alternatives to God through Jesus Christ are spin offs of the theological misstep taken by Eve (and affirmed by Adam) in the Garden of Eden. Our gift of choice gave rise to gods and goddesses of all shapes, sizes and levels of influence.

So … what in our culture passes for a false religion? Of course there are the cults led by Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon and David Koresh, but those are the obvious. What about partisan politics that suggests we are not a true believers unless we align with the most moral party? What about cults of personality that, like those surrounding John Lennon and the Beatles, create a massive following and make pronouncements about their popularity being greater than Jesus Christ? What about those who don’t say it, but operate as though it were also true about them? What names would come to mind? What about the mainstream media and state government effort to establish homosexuality as a normal behavior by maintaining that same sex marriages are acceptable and that straight folks can’t be fashion experts? And, yes are we not “clever in our own eyes.”

Set Apart

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. James 4: 4 – 6

John the Baptist would never get hired today. No church would touch him. He was a public relations disaster. He “wore clothes made from camel’s hair, had a leather belt around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6). Who would want to look at a guy like that every Sunday?
His message was as rough as his dress: a no-nonsense, bare-fisted challenge to repent and be baptized because God was on his way.
John the Baptist set himself apart for one task, to be a voice of Christ. Everything about John centered on his purpose. His dress. His diet. His actions. His demands.
You don’t have to be like the world to have an impact on the world. You don’t have to be like the crowd to change the crowd. You don’t have to lower yourself down to their level to lift them up to your level. Holiness doesn’t seek to be odd. Holiness seeks to be like God.

In a 1987 commencement address at Duke University, Ted Koppel, the news anchor for ABC’s Nightline said, “We have reconstructed the Tower of Babel and it is a television antenna, a thousand voices producing a daily parody of democracy in which everyone’s opinion is afforded equal weight regardless of substance or merit. Indeed, it can even be argued that opinions of real weight tend to sink with barely a trace in television’s ocean of banalities.”

The Branch and the Vine

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15: 4 – 5

God wants to be as close to us as a branch is to a vine. One is an extension of the other. It’s impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends. The branch isn’t connected only at the moment of bearing fruit. The gardener doesn’t keep the branches in a box and then, on the day he wants grapes, glue them to the vine. No, the branch constantly draws nutrition from the vine. . . .

God also uses the temple to depict the intimacy he desires. “Do you not know,” Paul writes, “that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19) Think with me about the temple for a moment. . . . God didn’t come and go, appear and disappear. He was and is a permanent presence, always available.

What incredibly good news for us! We are NEVER away from God!

Getting Our Attention

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing. Joel 2: 12 – 14

How far do you want God to go in getting your attention? If God has to choose between your eternal safety and your earthly comfort, which do you hope he chooses?
What if he moved you to another land? (As he did Abraham.) What if he called you out of retirement? (Remember Moses?) How about the voice of an angel or the bowel of a fish? (A la Gideon and Jonah.) How about a promotion like Daniel’s or a demotion like Samson’s?
God does what it takes to get our attention. Isn’t that the message of the Bible? The relentless pursuit of God. God on the hunt. God in the search. Peeking under the bed for hiding kids, stirring the bushes for lost sheep.

( From ‘A Gentle Thunder’ by Max Lucado )

Has God been allowing America to get a wake-up call? Has he gotten our attention? Has he gotten your attention?