Week 14 Friday

Worthless Religion

Today’s scripture selection: Jeremiah 7-11

Key verses: Jeremiah 7:3-8

 

     I’m not much on condemning religion.  In fact, I’ve spent the last thirty-some years of life working in the field.  A preacher’s kid who became a preacher – that’s me.  So, for the most part, I’m fine with the idea of “organized” religion.

     But I’d also be the first to say that religion can be worthless.  It can, and has, caused horrible pain and misfortune to come upon people.  Those who perpetrate it, and those who suffer at the hands of the perpetrators, prove this out.

     Think of the child sacrifices of the ancient Middle Eastern religions.  Think of the inquisition.  Think of the witch trials of Salem.  Think of all the “holy” wars fought over the years.  Think of 9/11.  Well – you get the picture.

     Yes, false religion has caused unimaginable pain through the centuries – and it breaks God’s heart.

Jeremiah had this to say about it:   

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!’If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors forever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.”

     As the scripture says, false religion is deadly.  But true faith – that expresses itself in compassionate action and that abhors idolatry – that brings life and security.

     So, take it from a preacher’s kid.  Religion, just for religion’s sake, is worthless.  True faith – it’s priceless.

 

Prayer: Lord, give me a discerning spirit, that I may always be true to true faith.  AMEN.  

      

 

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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