What is real religion? Now I am going to try and answer that question and of course this is just my opinion and let's see if you agree or if this gets you to react in indignation or approval. I would love to hear from you either way. That is how we learn and broaden are education. So please read the following carefully and I will do my best to participate in any discussions over any points that you would like to raise.
Let's think of some possibilities.
I used to think that really inspiring singing with catchy songs and melodies or what we used to call Praise and Worship was the total answer. In my long life of 70 years and 40 odd years as a practicing Christian I have watched and participated in those kinds of seemingly spiritual meetings. To begin with I thought they were great and I would look for the place that had the best music and best Christian band and that would become my main church. The problem was that after a while I would get bored. Why did I get bored? Because the things of this world even good spiritual Gospel music becomes dull after a while. I have watched Youth Churches spring up and they seemed amazing. Christian business men would donate thousands of dollars to help them keep the youth off the streets and from getting into trouble, but you know what? After a few years they split and the youth would scatter. They soon lost their shine. Just like worldly goods. They start bright, sparkling and attractive but like everything else it gets old and wears out and is eventually discarded.
This I think is very true of the Charismatic movement. Guitars and Fellowship and Meals after the meetings are great props BUT that's not the main thing and will only last for a season or so if it is not supported by the True Real Religion.
So what is the True Religion?
Many of my friends have been drawn to great Bible teachers. These teachers are real men of God but the problem is they grow old and eventually like all of us they will die and very rarely does the replacement really fit the bill.
For a long time I thought ACTION was the main thing. I thought the problem with the Churches was that they just warm benches and did nothing. Maybe they supported a few Missionaries who also made churches full of people to warm benches and do nothing in a foreign land. The only difference was that they were doing nothing in another country as opposed to doing nothing in their country of origin.
Then I found a really interesting and action packed faith group called the Children of God, the main and seemingly only lasting branch of the Jesus Revolution and born out of the Hippy Flower Power of the late 60s and early 70s. They took many of the Words of the Bible really seriously especially the parts referring to living by faith, forsaking all and going into all the world to preach the Gospel. They even had a structure of a kind with a a sort of a Pope or leader, and then Archbishops and Bishops etc. Here I found what looked like the answer for nearly 30 years of my life. That is more than a half of my active life. A simple childlike faith in Jesus Christ was the sole requirement. We lived by Faith without any visible means of support and daily and sometimes hourly we would experience spiritual miracles of provision of money and goods from food and clothing to vehicles and computers. However the leadership went astray and soon this movement began to get off track and is struggling today and is fast becoming a has been group. So sad.
Deep down I believed that the Word of God, the Bible contained the answer to this serious problem of WHAT IS REAL RELIGION? I struggled to try and understand, and more important to live by, every Word that proceeds out of the Mouth of God and not just from bread alone. (Matthew Ch 4 v 4). I somehow knew that the answer lay in the Scriptures. Nearly 60, 000 Christian denominations of Churches also believe the answer to be in the Bible, but why 60,000? Why could they not join together and agree and become one?
In the 2nd half of the last century, many people were looking for the truth and they went East in their search for Spiritual reality in Hinduism and Buddhism and Eastern religions. Christianity was just not Spiritual or Mystical enough. The arm waving and the falling over backwards and then all sorts of let outs like laughing in the spirit and making animal noises was fun for a bit and then soon wore off too. However most of these young backpack wanderers eventually would be lured back to modern civilization and join the rat race of materialistic life.
Everything seemed to start with a bang of enthusiasm but was not able to maintain the initial momentum.
Have you noticed that this is not only true of religious campaigns but also of revolutionary movements with the obvious modern example of Communism. They start with real zeal from the founding members and then when the first generation have given their blood in martyrdom for the cause, the second generation tend to take it much more easy and just amble along and eventually fade away.
I think as we look at these possibilities we will begin to see that how long a movement lasts depends on the enthusiasm of the leadership. With good and highly motivated leadership progress is made but when the leader dies much of what he lived and fought for dies with him.
It seems we need something that has the Mystical Stamp of a Deity. If there is going to be long lasting or everlasting results then there has to be the touch of the Divine. Anything drummed up by man even with the very best of intentions will not last long. It may look very good as in the above examples. People may even bleed for it but it will fade.
I want a religion which is Mystical and propels me along a path of sheer goodness. I want a religion that will help me overcome all my natural tendencies of selfishness and pride and will substitute pure love so that I am genuinely able to love and pray for my bitterest enemies.
How would I define this word Mystical. Simply it means being connected to God the creator of the Universe and all that it contains. A God who is pure love with a capital L
Christianity started 2000 years ago with all the correct ingredients. Scores of prophecies from the Old Testament of the Bible, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. A virgin birth. Three and a half years of miracles which defied the laws of Physics. A resurrection from the dead after a brutal public execution, a visible ascension into heaven and then an out pouring of the Holy Spirit with tongues of fire.
I meet many young people on the streets who have given up on the one Christian religion which can trace its source to the times of the Apostles and Christ. When I talk to them I tell them something like this. "I know exactly why you gave up on the Catholic Church." I continue. "You find it boring. You stand up and then you sit down and then you repeat these movements often. You sing songs which are all very old fashioned. The people there are hardly friendly. The sermon is usually dull and uninteresting. The Priest is usually rather old and seemingly out of touch. At the end of the hour you are thankful to get out and never come back again." They look at me in amazement nodding their heads in agreement. Then I drop the BOMB! "You missed the whole point. The Holy Mass is centered around the bloodless sacrifice of the Bread and Wine known as the Eucharist. It is a ceremony that dates right back to the time of the first century." I tell them that Jesus instituted the last Supper and gave his disciples the authority to change bread and wine into His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity and this today is carried out by the Priests. Even bad priests have the ability and authority handed down 20 centuries ago and now down through the centuries to do this awesome mystical feat. They also have the authority to forgive or not forgive, (retain), sins. When people have made a good confession of his or her sins, then they can partake of the feast of eating the Flesh and drinking the Blood of Jesus Christ in a totally not cannibalistic way by accepting the Host from the Priest and allowing the wafer which now represents the whole complete body of Christ to digest in their body. This act enables one to be united in a very special way to Jesus. I believe that this is the greatest spiritual experience that is freely available to everybody. Of course it also takes faith because nearly every Mystical experience has to be mixed with Faith, real faith.
So that's it. All the other ideas mentioned here are not bad in themselves but are add ons and not the essential ingredient. I sincerely believe that the celebration of the Holy Mass instituted by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper is the main stay of lasting Christianity. That is why Jesus could say with great certainty that He personally would build and maintain this longest on record Church and the Gates of Hell would not be able to withstand its onslaughts. The add ons may help a little but the secret, the true secret lies in the Eucharist. That host of bread and wine consecrated by a Roman Catholic Priest which turns into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.