Last time I shared a question that I asked in one of my summer online classes. The question was: Why do you think religion has brought out the best and the worst in people down through the ages? And last time I talked about how religion brings out the worst in people. Now let’s talk about how religion brings out the best.
Again, some of the student responses were insightful. One said that if we have a true connection with God, we will submit our whole self to Him and change from the inside. We become concerned with those around us.
Another said that religion frames how we view the world. So if we focus on God and His will for us, we will be seeing the world through His eyes — eyes of love.
Another said that religion keeps us balanced mentally, physically, and spiritually. And another stated that it was the presence of the Holy Spirit who either changed us for better or worse. And yet another mentioned that it was the moral and ethical values that bring out the best.
All of these are great answers, and together, along with some I haven’t mentioned, they make up a total answer.
“Religion” is usually thought of as a system of beliefs, created by a reformer or body of people based on his or their study. As such, religion can connote a manmade distortion of God’s message, or it can bring to light the system of truth God wants us to see and put it into a total package that makes it easy for others to understand – as long as one doesn’t become locked in and therefore resistant to further illumination from the Holy Spirit.
But definitions aside, religion is only good if it leads us to a heart connection with God and a submission to His will, for that’s what will create our lives anew and make us to be the people God designed us to be. When this happens, God’s love and holiness will shine out of us, and we will be responding to situations and treating people the way God desires. He will “work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.
Once we set “self” aside and make room for the working of the Holy Spirit on our hearts, there is no limit to our usefulness to God because He can now work in and through us.
In this way, religion can bring out the “best in us” – which is really another way of saying that it’s God who lives in us and shines out of us.
So now for application. Thought questions: No matter what denomination or religion you’re in . . . How much of a heart connection do you have with God? How submitted are you to His will? How well is God’s love and His holiness allowed to shine through you?