Author: Ron Graham
Why Be Religious?
—Two Reasons, Each Linked to Death
If you ask me, “Why be religious?” I assume you genuinely want to know the answer. Some people say, “Why be religious?” but mean, “I don't see any point in religion.” Not you, I hope. I'll try to give good reasons for being religious.
First I must be a little critical of religious people. Some folk are religious, yet when asked why they are so, they cannot "give a reason" (1Peter 3:15). Such people are only emotionally religious. Their religion is not "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).
In that case, the web of faith is weak and without integrity, because it is not spun from the answers in the gospel to life’s fundamental questions.
To those elemental questions, the answers are, like the spider’s web, at once both simple yet profound. While there may be many answers to the question, “Why be religious?” two reasons are outstanding; and both of them are linked to death.
1 You are going to die
Death is inescapable. As the sticky strands of the spider's web trap the mosquito, so we are snared by death, and conquered. Across the world, someone, somewhere, dies every second or so (6000 a day). One day, you don't know when, it will be your turn, and death will catch up with you. You know your birthday, but you don't know your death day.
"It is appointed for man once to die, and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). There's no better reason to be religious in following Christ who "will judge the living and the dead at his appearing" (2Timothy 4:1).
2 Jesus died for you
Victory over death is possible! The Lord Jesus made it so by his own death and by his resurrection from the dead.
"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures" (1Corinthians 15:3-4).
"As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive, but each in his own order: Christ the first fruits and after that those who are Christ's at his coming" (1Corinthians 15:20-23).
Christ himself bore our sins in his body on the cross (1Peter 2:24). There is no better reason to follow him and be very religious about it.
There Is No Alternative
In the two statements "You are going to die" and "Jesus died for you" we have the very answer to the question. "Why be religious?" So our series of lessons will be built around those two answers.
But why bother? Isn't there some other way to conquer death?
- Can 21st century science provide a solution? Science is working on the problem. Meanwhile science is finding ways to keep us alive a few years longer. Some people have arranged to have their bodies frozen as soon as they die, in the hope that future scientists can revive them to live indefinitely.
- This hope comes nowhere near the solution Jesus offers. We are made of dust and return to dust (Genesis 3:19). Those who sleep in the dust will arise one day. If they were obedient disciples of Jesus they shall, in their resurrection, enter into eternal life (Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29).
- Can the occult solve the problem? There are those among the occult who claim to speak with the dead. The astral plane and “the other side” are the occult's version of Heaven. Even if it were true and real, this plane is not worthy of comparison with the place Jesus has prepared for his disciples (John 14:1-3).
- Can Money provide an answer to death? As the Bible points out, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I shall return" (Job 1:21, Ecclesiastes 5:15-16).
- Can ignoring the problem solve it? Most people pretty much ignore death. They might take life insurance and even buy a grave site. But they ignore the basic problem. Sometimes problems go away by themselves. But death doesn't. After it's happened, it's too late to address the problem.
Listen to Jesus now. "Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts..." (Hebrews 3:15).