Religion doesn’t work. By ‘religion,’ I mean man-made attempts to get close to God and earn His acceptance by performing rituals and following rules. We humans feel “something” is missing We are wired to go looking for it. Most have a sense that what’s missing is our connection to God. We sense He is “out there“ somewhere, but we can’t seem to find Him. We know the difference between good and bad, and yet we cannot consistently be good. Religion is our human attempt to fix that emptiness and failure. It seeks to fill the emptiness with ritual, such as chanting, singing, saying prayers, swinging incense and the like. It seeks to repair the failure with lists of strict “do’s and don’ts” and punishments for those who screw up. Every religion that I am aware of is a combination of those two elements. People who strive to connect to God and to be good by following religion are usually sincere and well-meaning, but inevitably fail.
Why is that? Let’s take it from the top:
God knows our connection with Him is broken. It was broken from the beginning. The first three chapters of the Bible (Genesis 1-3) form a powerful narrative that illustrates two profound truths: 1) We were created by God to have an intimate connection and relationship with Him that depends upon trust. 2) That connection is broken when we turn away from God and trust our own ideas. Adam and Eve had an intimate relationship with God – they could hear Him and speak to Him, and they walked with Him in the “cool of the day.” But when they doubted God that intimate connection was broken.
God designed human beings to be connected to Him by His Spirit. Your computer is connected to mine by the internet. My television is connected to America’s Got Talent by means of a satellite signal. Your cell phone is connected to your Aunt Louise by an invisible cell signal. All of these connections are possible because of the the equipment was designed. God designed us to connect with Him by His Holy Spirit. When you don’t have any cell signal, you say your phone is dead. It still lights up, it still goes “boop” when you push the buttons, but it is dead. When God disconnects us from the flow of His Spirit, we are dead. Our bodies work, our minds still work, but we are dead. That’s why God said to Adam:
when you eat of it [i.e. when you doubt Me and disobey Me] you will surely die. (Genesis 2:17b)
Adam’s body didn’t die, his soul (his mind) didn’t die. His connection to God died. Since his original act of doubt and disobedience, all people have been born with the equipment to connect to God, but without His Spirit. We have been born dead.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— (Romans 5:12)
Religion cannot work because nothing a dead man can do will restore him to life. The only One Who can restore “dead” humans to life, who can restore the flow of His Spirit, is God. That is why Jesus said,
…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b)
Guess how that “life” happens? Stay tuned…