Real Religion

[I wrote this article for my church’s publication, The Messenger.  I am grateful for their support and tireless patience]
ghost god (pike and 12th)
(pike and 12th) (Photo credit: Dylan)

We settle for far too little far too often in our lives, perhaps most often with religion.  Hearing a message on Sunday satisfies our curiosity for God, several hymns a week fulfill our need to worship, and small talk scratches our itch for fellowship.  Routine certainly serves as a stabilizing force in our pursuit of God, but only when it is married with sincerity and power.

Power.  Does this word describe your Christian experience?

…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control….

[2 Timothy 1:7]

The truth is that real religion is really powerful.  God’s Spirit works powerfully in us; pulling us towards relationship with the Father, actively convicting us to set aside sin in favor of life to the fullest, building up love in our hearts for fellow believers, and affecting change.

Yet we continually settle for less.  Our tendency toward complacency is a very serious, very contagious illness; so serious that Paul commanded the early church to avoid people that perpetuated it.

…having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.  Avoid such people.

[2 Timothy 3:5]

Church, do not settle!  Be not OK with the way things are.  Desire God and the power that accompanies His Spirit.  We have enough if we have Him, but we will never have enough of Him.

Begin by telling God that you desire Him and the sort of religion that connects with Him.  God is eager to listen and answer your prayers.  Ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit and anticipate what was promised to the first believers; “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…” [Acts 1:8].

If you have experienced this power, talk about it.  We need to encourage one another on toward godliness, excite one another with stories of God’s divine work, and corporately strive for consequential faith.

Let our religion be powerful.

Allen Marshall O'Brien

Allen Marshall O’Brien is the pastor of a UCC church in Northern California and co-host of the Irenicast. He believes in the importance of education, peace, and ecology, throws things to his border collie Sonata, and writes for multiple platforms.

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One thought on “Real Religion

  1. I think many TV evangelists and will worship teachers have made God’s people afraid to have faith in the power of God. We don’t want to demand from God or bargan with God and so we abandon our pursuit of God. I believe in what God is doing in my life and I have faith in his transforming grace. And it’s a good thing because I don’t want to be the same person tonight that I was when I got up this morning.

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