FAITH IS MISTAKENLY THOUGHT TO BE SYNONYMOUS TO RELIGION. People Speak About Being People Of Faith Referring To Those Who They Believe Are Religious. The difference between the two concepts is significant even if faith is necessary for one to have religion.
Most people seem to understand that there is a difference between faith and religion, even if they are not so sure. Faith is viewed as something that people possess. Although, whether this is faith in God may be another matter.
Unfortunately, most people have a distorted view concerning religion because they mistake cultural practices that are purportedly directed towards some god or perceived supernatural being as religion. This is evident when people attempt to address this question. Call the distorted views religion, if you like, but it is a distortion or false representation of religion.
There is a verse in the Bible that incorporates the idea that true religion is to visit mothers and orphans in their afflictions. Often it is taken out of context when people want support for their view that religion is about good works, or in a negative vein, doing something repeatedly is a sign of being possessed by a religious spirit.
The verse in the book of James, to which I refer, actually comes after discussion about not being deceived by one’s perceived infatuations.
Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing. If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:21–27)
As we can see the context tells us that this is about not entertaining the filth and wickedness that is common among dwellers on this planet of iniquity, but keeping oneself unstained from the ways of the world, by looking into the perfect Law of Liberty and being someone who honors one’s word, as expected of a person who possesses integrity.
True Religion is the quest for truth. For how can one receive the implanted word of truth, if one has recognized ones need and sought it? When speaking about receiving the word of truth, the Apostle James is not speaking to unbelievers who have not heard the word of truth (James 1:18), but probably make-believers.
In the book of Revelation, Lord Jesus says that He stands at the door of people who attend His Laodicean Church, calls out to them, and knocks; hopefully, so that the people might let Him in (Revelation 3:20). If the Bible is true, it appears there are people who claim they are Christians (they obviously go to the Laodicean Church or whatever it represents today) yet they have no relationship with Lord Jesus Christ. (Maybe they have a body of doctrine which they erroneously refer to as “the faith” that they defend and think that they were saved before the foundation of the world.)
For those who do not know Lord Jesus Christ, but would like to know the truth, this is what true religion is really about—the quest for the ideal life. This ideal is not something that a person, who looks in a mirror, finds cause for delight. Rather, this is the ideal that encompasses the full comprehensive knowledge of existence and calculates harmony. (Don’t like it. Maybe you would prefer perpetual anarchy, inner anguish and torment.)
We are all on a quest. Most of us sell ourselves short. In fact, we probably all do at times. But if we want to know the way to find the truth that enables us to experience this ideal life, we might do well to take note of John 14:6:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.
Religion—true religion—is the quest for the ideal life. This involves the quest of seeking truth and not developing theories and then asserting them as fact; rather, one needs to be honest with oneself, so that the way that leads to true life can be discovered.
Too many people get infatuated with what they see in the mirror; but what they do not realize, that which they thought they saw, was not exactly what was really there. Imagination plays tricks on us all.