Purpose of Religion?

“The very purpose of religion is to control yourself.”

The Dalai Lama said many great things, but this was not one of them. I am so very grateful that God’s Word teaches differently. If the definition of religion is the pursuit of God and a right standing with Him, than its purpose is not behavior modification, but a journey toward acceptance of Grace and restored fellowship with God. It’s not about us, but about Him.

H. H. Dalai Lama continued:

“… we must criticize ourselves. How much am I doing about my anger? About my attachment, about my hatred, about my pride, my jealousy? These are things which we must check in daily life.”

I have very little self-control, as anyone close to me can attest. I yell at my kids, craft supplies I absolutely had to have (but that have remained untouched for years) litter my basement, and my house is always a mess (because I too often choose sleep over chores). I am impulsive and selfish and, try as I might, I cannot seem to “fix” myself.

I find a little hope in this Chinese proverb:

Habits are cobwebs at first; cables at last.

If I keep working hard enough, I will be bound by the positive routines and habits I create. I suppose that’s good news.

I find a lot more hope in this quote:

“Self-improvement is no more God’s plan than self-salvation.” — John Ortberg

Yes, of course, God wants us to be better. Sanctification — the process of becoming more like Christ — is part of His plan, but the reaching of that goal depends on Him, not on us. It is His Holy Spirit that enables us to become better; we need only be willing to listen and follow. That’s it.

Oh, what freedom we have in Christ!

I am so exceedingly grateful that my religion and my salvation do not depend on me. Isn’t grace a beautiful thing?



Publishing Note: I wrote today’s post before yesterday’s events at the Boston Marathon. If you would like some encouragement addressing the questions raised by such a tragedy, please visit this post. I wrote it last December after the Sandy Hook shooting. While it is not directly tied to yesterday, its truths are the same. My thoughts and prayers are the same.

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