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How You Know You've Become "Religious"

I've been teaching through the book of Mark at Colossae and it has been enlightening to say the least.  We inched into chapter 3 yesterday and this is when I took time to take a closer look at 5 pitfalls we have seen the Pharisee's fall into up to this point.  For this post I will talk about one of those.  Here is one of the things that make them "religious" and a little bit of how we, unfortunately, can fall into the same trap.

They used their convictions as weapons.  For instance, they held the conviction that you couldn't lift a finger on the Sabbath, even if it meant having something to eat.  We see this issue being addressed in the grain field with Jesus at the end of chapter 2 where Jesus and his disciples are picking some grain to eat.  The Pharisee's had unfortunately made the Sabbath about another set of rules to uphold and therefore it became about things they could NOT do.  This is why Jesus combats their understanding and makes it clear that the Sabbath was created for man, not vice versa.

But this goes deeper than just missing the point.  The Pharisee's were using their convictions about the Sabbath to tear Jesus down (see 3:2).  This is when their convictions became weapons.  Although it may be more subversive, we often fall into the same trap.

Holding personal convictions is a good thing.  We all hold personal convictions about different things and the truth is godly people disagree on many different areas.  For example, some think home school is the only way to be a faithful parent, others think public school is the only way to be faithful and yet others think private school is the way to go.  But the truth is godly people land in each of these areas of conviction and each seem to have "biblical support" behind the conviction they hold so dearly.

This diversity is normal and I would suggest healthy, but it quickly turns unhealthy when we use our convictions to tear down other people.  This becomes religious, the very thing nobody wants to be a part of.  We become "religious" the moment we think of someone that doesn't hold our same convictions as less than us.  We, of course, would never say this out loud.  But we do tend to think of people as less spiritual than we are if they don't hold the same convictions as we do.  We can do this in our own minds or openly as the Pharisee's did with Jesus, but either way we have pulled out our weapon and used it to tear someone down.  We then go away feeling more spiritual than they are.

And this, my friends, is one way we know we've become "religious."


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