Religion: The Balance

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There are two points that this article will point out. The first point is that a relationship with God cannot leave out His religion. The second point is that God wants a relationship with us, which means we cannot solely rely on religion. To define this entire article, we must first view a few major world religions.

The religion of Islam – first uncovered mention of this religion are only found around the time of its prophet, Muhammad. Muslims, or Muhammadans as they can be defined, believe that Islam first was the religion practiced by Adam. This cannot be verified and no other texts back this claim up. This claim is only accepted by people that must accept the Qur’an as 100% truth, whether or not history backs them up. In fact, history, according to both Judaic and Christian texts, claims that the only “religion” of Adam was to worship God and have a relationship with Him.
Islam has the idea that salvation is by both faith and works, which add to the number of merits you receive. On Judgement Day, God will tally up your merits and decide whether you can enter paradise, or descend to hell. Anyone that is not a Muslim will stay in hell, but Muslims that go to hell will eventually go to paradise. The punishments in hell seem to be worse for women than for men (as stated by the Qur’an).
Islam claims to be the only true religion (as do other religions). In fact, the Qur’an explicitly states that Islam was perfected as a religion for all men. Thus, according to the Qur’an, God prefers that you hold to His religion as practiced by Muhammad, be extremely religious, and dedicate your life to not breaking the laws, regulations, and stipulations as well as performing all required tasks for more merits. For example, some tasks may require you to repeat/recite verses or names hundreds of times to get healing or blessings. Paganistic/superstitious requirements are also involved in Islam. Your must prayer before going through doorways, going to the bathroom, and your toilet must face a certain direction, which may cause difficulty in building homes or adapting to existing homes. This religion forces everyone to cater to particular people without the people being catered to cater to an equal state.

The Religion of Judaism (Before Christianity) – This version of Judaism is different from modern versions. What began as a series of relationships between God and men turned into a religion which became overburdened by the weight of laws and regulations by other men. Most Rabbis claim Judaism to be merit-based via the 613 laws commanded of men. We know that Judaism required sacrifices, rolling sins ahead one year. Eventually, Judaism claimed that sacrifices were no longer needed since God can forgive sin without the shedding of blood. My studies do not involve much of Judaism, hence the reason for such few words.
During the time of Jesus, Judaism was riddled with the theology of men. Men had made the law unbearable and became so religious, that Jesus would often rebuke them for their hypocrisy.

The Religion of Christianity (Under Jesus, Not Catholics) – What grew as a sect of Judaism would later be relabeled to Christianity. The word Christian was used for mocking those that followed the Jewish criminal, Jesus. One could say that Christianity has come a long way since Christ- and that would be right. Christians today come in two forms. The first form, western Christians, usually hold to the relationship side of God, throwing away religiousness. The other form, eastern Christians, are usually more focused on religion than the relationship.
Some Christians go so far as to say that Jesus wasn’t religious. His life shows differently. Baptism was a religious action. Traveling to the Temple and synagogues were also highly religious. Everything about Jesus was religious, but he balanced religion with the relationship. He taught the law deeper than man ever could, for their views of the law were grounded in flesh, while Jesus’ was grounded in love of both God and humanity.

Islam holds to extreme religiousness, which is to say, Islam wants its followers to be extremely religious in all that they do. Judaism began because of a relationship with God but later became full of legality. Both religions grew to require both faith and works to receive merits. Christianity started as a sect of Judaism which lessened the number of rules and regulations and opened salvation up for the Gentiles as a whole. Yet, Christianity has grown to only requiring faith without works. Faith without works is dead, not because we are saved by faith and works, but because your faith not in action is no true faith at all.
The Christian must first find a relationship with God in Christ, but grow to settle themselves in submission to God by the walk of religion. Yes, we very much need the relationship, but a relationship without the path of religion is a dead-end.