What are you religious about? Is it your workout routine or your profession? Maybe a sport or hobby? One of America’s great religions is on full display in Houston, Texas, this week – football. Religion may be a strong word. For most it is simply a passionate interest in a game, but some are indeed religious about their football. The last game of the season will be played Sunday and women will get their husbands back. At least until March Madness kicks in.
Religion by definition is: a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance. Supreme importance suggests everything else gets pushed aside. A glance in the stands of any sporting venue shows many who ascribe supreme importance to the game being played. It can happen in the office as well. Many will push everything aside to be successful in their field or achieve some degree of financial security. When is the line crossed from passionate interest to religious obsession? When relationship is lost.
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. – Acts 17:22-25. The men of Athens had become so religious in their worship of a variety of objects that they built an altar ‘To the unknown god’ to make sure they covered all the bases. Then Paul introduced them to a relationship with the One true God. Objects of worship, idols are as prevalent today if not more so than they were in 1st century Athens. We may not build altars but we certainly can put sports, hobbies, homes, jobs, status, the dollar, kids, schools, even family and church on high pedestals. Paul says there are many distractions, some even seemingly good, that can take man’s eyes off the One true God. Relationship with Him takes a hit and it ripples through families to the point that God is unknown.
Satan’s yoke has everything to do with taking man’s eyes off God through schemes that distract men and destroy relationship in family. This is victory for the enemy. Jesus went to the cross to defeat the enemy and reconnect us in relationship with the Father, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew11:30). Religion is good when it strengthens a personal and passionate relationship with the Father through the Son, Jesus the Christ. Anything else is idol worship.
Prayer guide: My Father, thank You for reconnecting us in relationship with You through Your Son Jesus the Christ. I am passionate about football but I can get caught up in it to a point of sacrificing relationships You have blessed me with. I have even gotten upset with my pastor for a long sermon on a particularly big Sunday in January. Forgive me. Help me keep my passion for sports in proper perspective. I want to be more religious about time with You in prayer, scripture, fasting, study and worship. Strengthen my relationship with You and teach me to live that relationship in marriage and family. Amen.
A faithful father is religious about growing in relationship with the Father.