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Good Religion – Bad Religion

November 8, 2016

Just over a month ago, we held a big clothes collection for Syria here at our church. People came from all over the local area, donating clothes to be brought out to refugee camps and hospitals by a charity called Samara’s Aid Appeal. We were absolutely blown away by the response! We had never imagined there would be some 225 boxes of clothes to send to Syria to help refugees in makeshift camps survive the winter. When the congregation met for worship the following Sunday morning one part of the sanctuary was still full of clothes and piles of bedding – but I don’t think anyone minded having to sit in a different pew for a change.

And I just feel this was such a good demonstration of the active side of the Christian faith. Yes, I enjoy worship; yes, I believe people need to hear about Jesus in order to become children of God; but I also believe God wants us to demonstrate his love in practical ways whenever we can.

The word “religion” has mainly negative connotations nowadays, especially because of the war in the Middle East and religiously motivated terror acts, and I don’t really mind. The Bible doesn’t talk much about religion; instead it talks about the true God who revealed himself in Jesus, and whose main characteristic is love and compassion.

It’s very sad when Christians forget Jesus’ summary of the Law: love God above all else, and love everybody else like yourself. Christians have often been less loving than we have the right to expect from followers of Jesus, and sadly lots of people are now nonbelievers (or at least non-church goers) because of treatment they have received at the hands of selfish Christians. “Love your neighbour as yourself” has not been abolished, and if you ask “who is my neighbour”, Jesus will tell you it applies to everyone it can apply to.

That’s why that collection Saturday was such a joyous occasion (and I felt really bad having to tell several people today that we couldn’t actually take any more). We had an opportunity to demonstrate generous and sacrificial love (both the donors and the volunteers who spent most of Saturday sorting clothes), and the result will be a blessing to people far away who are suffering the effects of bad religion, and who desperately need to experience some of God’s love and compassion instead.

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From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

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