Updated: Aug 26, 2018
The Oxford Dictionary defines religion as:
“the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/religion).
‘Belief’ is definitely required in the Christian faith: we must believe in God’s existence, and the fact that He rewards those who persist in seeking Him (Hebrews 11:6). But to speak of God merely as a “superhuman controlling power” makes God seem like a distant puppeteer who is disconnected from His creation. Christianity can’t be contained by this definition for various reasons. One of the greatest of these is the fact that Christianity carries the imagery of death and rebirth into a completely new life. Jesus came to give us the abundant life (John 10:10), not just a superhuman God to believe in and worship.
Functioning according to design
We celebrate created things most when they work as they were designed to. Take for example a brand-new car. It might be expensive, it might be fast and it might be loaded with the latest gadgets. But if you fill the car up with the wrong fuel, it suddenly can’t do what it was designed to do – get you from point A to point B. It’s amazing how such a small mistake can strip the car of its potential, until it gets repaired. The best way to revive it is to get it in the hands of the manufacturer.
God designed us with His characteristics, His attributes and His very nature (Genesis 1:26-27). Being made to be just like God, we were hard-wired with infinite value, meaning and potential. This is true of all humans, so no life is meaningless. But our value and potential can feel trumped when we don’t work how we were designed to. When we don’t reflect God’s nature throughout all areas of life, we’re just like the brand new car that’s been filled to the brim with the wrong fuel. Loaded with meaning, value and potential, but limited by inward system failure.
The truth about our brokenness
Jesus came to give us life more “abundantly” (John 10:10). This might not be everyday language for many of us, but it’s important we don’t miss what’s being said here. One definition of the root Greek word translated here as “abundantly” is: “superior in quality”. This makes it clear that there’s something broken with the lives we already live. Throughout the world, the signs of our brokenness are visible for all to see. From depression to drunkenness and relational dysfunction, this world is in desperate need of a solution.
The root of our brokenness stems from our daily decisions to live life on terms of our own. The decision to lie because we want that job. The decision not to forgive because we feel betrayed. The decision to have sex outside of marriage because we feel aroused. These are all examples of how we’ve refused to live by our original, God-like design. We’ve rejected God’s nature and wisdom for life, presuming we know better than our Creator. Yet the brokenness caused by our rebellious ways only proves how little we know about functioning well. This is why we need to go back to our Creator for repair.
How do I get back to functioning properly?
The world doesn’t simply need a system of belief and worship of a superhuman God. In itself, this does nothing to solve the problems we face through our brokenness. This is why Christianity is far more than just a religion. It’s the gift of new life through a brand new identity that responds to all aspects of life.
The fix to our inward system failure starts by raising the white flag, admitting our failure to God. We desperately need to draw close to the Creator (James 4:8). Only He can show us how to function as we were designed. He invites us into a Father-son relationship that changes the course of our lives. By saying yes to God, we’re saying yes to living out His original design for man. No longer living life on terms of our own, but letting God Father us and train us to walk in His nature (Titus 2:11-14). Letting Him train us to live life more abundantly.
Will you respond to God’s call?
To the person who has come to the end of themselves: I know what it’s like to feel like you’ve gone far beyond the point of return. But take it from someone who’s been where you are - it’s not too late! Every breath you breathe is another sign of God’s resounding cry for you to come home. You weren’t designed for the brokenness you feel. God wants to heal you and Father you back in the way of truth. You don’t need to be perfect before you come to Him, otherwise none of us could meet the mark (Psalm 51:17). But your brokenness and sincerity is enough for you to enter His healing room.
To everybody else: Church attendance and bible knowledge doesn’t excuse us from God’s call. So I encourage you to sincerely invite God to expose any areas that might be blind spots. Unforgiveness, pride, lustful thinking and dishonesty are some examples of what He might be exposing. Don’t grow death to God’s corrective voice. It’s a sign of His love and desire for your growth.