The 2001 Commentaries

Is there a Christian Alternative to Religion?

info All commentaries are written by volunteers, readers, or supporters of our Bible translation project. These are not official views of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.

Although many would agree that religion is following a belief in God; when they are asked, “What is your religion,” most would speak of their being a part of some religious institution or following, not of their personal beliefs.

And as the result; As many have become disillusioned with the modern changes in, the teachings of, and the practices of their religions, quite a few have simply drifted away from their faith in God. For they think that worship of God requires us to identify with some particular religion, because that is the only option they’ve ever known.

Yet, as we look to the examples of the Bible, we find that joining an organized religion hasn’t always been the only pathway to a relationship with God.

Take for example, the righteous man Abraham: He lived during a time when there were forms of religion, but we don’t read that he had to join some group to gain a good relationship with God. Rather, because he was a good man and he loved and trusted God, the Bible tells us that God recognized him as being His ‘friend.’

So, in this time when religions in general are accepting and teaching radical and/or obviously untrue doctrines, recognize that it is still possible to become a friend of God without compromising ourselves by fitting ourselves into some false religion and accepting their doctrines.

Religion, the Snare and Racket

It is interesting that, back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a preacher named Russell who actually taught that such a thing was possible for us. For he traveled throughout the Americas and to many other places around the wold preaching that ‘Religion is a snare and a racket.’ Yes, it was his idea that Christians didn’t have to join a religion to find salvation.

What alternative did he propose? He said, “You should just be Bible students.” And “Bible Students” is what he called those who followed his teachings. No religious title or doctrines that they had to accept and follow. How did that turn out? Well, after his death, following successors rejected his ideas and took religious names for their organizations, which included all the normal rules, doctrines and trappings of what Russell once called “A snare and a racket.”

So, are we teaching Russell or Russellism here? No, for Russell was just a good man… and many of the things he taught have proven to be wrong.

Yet, in a time when established religions have turned away from or never taught what many have learned to be true from the Bible, perhaps it is a good time to think about becoming just “Bible students” again and working toward developing our personal relationship with God.

Is It Possible to Become God’s Friend?

It is a fact that we can make ourselves friends to anyone, and true friends are always appreciated. Doing this doesn’t require any ceremony or contract, it’s something that we can just choose to do.

How can we make ourselves friends of God? By treating Him as a friend… someone whom we will stand up for and honor.

Remember that true friends don’t take advantage of each other or set requirements for them to remain our friends.

Also, we must deeply appreciate — and recognize— the things that He does for us… and stay in touch. Friends have long talks with each other, and they are quick to apologize for any way that they may have offended.

Remember that God isn’t a ‘genie in a bottle’ who will bring us fame, fortune, or “good luck” if He likes us. Rather, as a friend, we can trust that He is always there to show His love and to bring comfort.

And remember that to remain as friends of God, He has to like us and approve of the things that we do.

But, What About Association with Those of Like Faith?

Paul wrote (as recorded at Hebrews 10:24, 25): ‘And let’s keep reminding ourselves that we must continue to help each other to grow in love and in good deeds. Also, don’t stop meeting together as some have made it their custom. Rather, let’s keep on encouraging each other… And [do this] even more so as we see the Day drawing near.’

So, shouldn’t we actually be reaching out and searching for association with those who believe and act as we do?

Yes we should, but we must avoid the trap that seems to befall all those who form themselves into religions… the creating of personal opinions as rules, the creation of doctrines that can’t be reviewed or discussed, and starting to believe in the infallibility of current and former leaders and teachers.

These are not friendly, and they are not God’s ways.

Understand that God is good and He actually wants to be your friend. Accept His friendship. Become His friend!

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