The Pitfalls of Religiosity

Religiosity is one of the most dangerous things that Christians deal with. So, what does religiosity mean? Religiosity is the quality of being religious. What does that mean? It is being religious for being religioun’s sake. Another definition I found is excessive devotion to religion. What does that look like in our lives?

Maybe you go to church because it is what you’re supposed to do. You go to small group because your friends do and it is something to do. You act like you have it all together in front of other Christians because you feel like you have something to prove. You go through the motions in worship services and use big words and christianese to impress other people.

So why is religiosity so dangerous? Because at the very heart of religiosity you put your hope and identity in being a good Christian, rather than a follower of Christ. You are committed to religion and not to Jesus. How do I know it is so dangerous? Because I am the absolute biggest religiositer. (It’s a word!)

Here are 2 of the problems with the religiosity mindset, and how they effect my heart and walk with God:

My heart becomes numb to Christ and the message of the gospel.

I find that over time of being around Christians and going through the motions, I slowly become more and more unaware of what the gospel is actually saying. The gospel requires complete dependance on Jesus and a deep repentance that I cannot do anything good on my own. The longer that we fool ourselves in this way, the more we believe that we can do it on our own. In doing so, we cheapen the gospel and make Christianity a list of do’s and don’ts, which ultimately is miserable. Think about the Pharisees and the way they prayed and obeyed. It wasn’t out of a love for God, but out of worry about who might be watching them.

I use Jesus and the gospel for my own purposes.

I also find that when I trust in being a Christian and not in Christ I am prone to use Jesus. What do I mean by that? I will go to church so that people think that I am a stronger Christian. I will pray out loud trying to impress people rather than bearing my heart to the God of the universe. My motivations become about using Jesus to make me look better, instead of resting in Jesus. Ultimately, this will lead to and is form of unbelief.

Here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be this way. While we all struggle with mixed motives and religiosity, this isn’t what God wants for us. We don’t have to continue down this miserable path.

Ezekiel 36:23-27 says

And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh. And I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

We serve a merciful God that wants us simply to return from our evil ways, to repent and draw near to him. He will forgive us. Not only will he forgive us but he will restore us and provide a more true and pure love for him. I know that this is what my heart wants more than anything: to quit acting like everything is okay and to share my struggles – for my heart to love God for who he is and not what he can do for me. For the gospel to give me true joy, not a way to impress my friends.

If this is where you are have hope and return to the simple gospel! Here’s a prayer that my sister showed me recently. I have been trying to pray for the past week and it has helped me immensely.

A Disciple’s Renewal from the Valley of Vision:

O My Savior, Help me. I am slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb; I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights; I am pained by my graceless heart, my prayerless days, my poverty of love, my sloth in the heavenly race, my sullied conscience, my wasted hours, my unspent opportunities. I am blind while light shines around me: take the scales from my eyes, grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief. Make it my chiefest joy to study thee, meditate on thee, gaze on thee, sit like Mary at thy feat, lean like John on thy breast, appeal like Peter to thy love. Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be more decision in my character, more vigour in my purposes, more elevation in my life, more fervor in my devotion, more constancy in my zeal. As I have a position in the world, keep me from making the world my position; May I never seek in the creature what can be found only in the Creator; Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight. Ride forth in me, thou king of kings and Lord of Lords, that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.

Amen.

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