Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
My colleague Karl Faase tells the story of an Australian lady who at age 17 joined a religious order. It was a big step for a young lady still in her teens. But all did not go well for her and she left the order at the age of 31.
This period of her life did not go well—in fact it was a negative experience and she remembered particular events. One thing that happened she did not forget. She was given responsibility for nursing an old nun who was dying. It was a traumatic time because the old nun was terrified of dying. The younger nun found it hard to accept that, after all the years of devotion to her faith, the older nun’s religion meant nothing to her. Her lifetime of prayers, sacrifice and noble service seemed to mean nothing as death approached.
The Australian nun came to this stunning conclusion: if religion can’t help you at this time in your life, it never will.
Searching for the Meaning of Life
I found this a fascinating insight into life and death. Just going through the rituals of religion did not make a real difference. What really matters is a personal relationship with God. So I ask the question, Does religion really make a difference? What caused the devoted nun to be terrified of death in her dying moments?
There are many different religions throughout the world. I’m sure you know that. They differ in many ways and it is not easy to write about them all in one chapter. Nevertheless, despite their great differences, they do have in common: people’s search for the meaning of life and—in most cases—their response to a Creator. We have a need to worship something or someone who is greater than ourselves.
The Webster Dictionary gives the definition of religion as ‘the outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a god, or gods, having power of their destiny.’
What Do We Consider About Religion?
I read of a Governor in the US, Jesse Ventura, who was defending prostitution and said religion was getting in the way. Here’s what he said,
Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people’s business. I live by the golden rule: Treat others as you’d want them to treat you. The religious right wants to tell people how to live.
Later, when the interview was published, and it became apparent that he had offended many with his remarks, he said that he considers himself to be a Christian and that he believes that Jesus Christ is the Saviour.
However, he also said,
I don’t believe necessarily that I need a church to go to. My religious beliefs can be by a lake, they can be on a hill, they can be in the solitude of my own office. And I believe that there’s no set example of what people’s beliefs should be.
I have a feeling a lot of people think like this, but it’s a shame really because there is much more to consider about religion.
You Can Know God
Many people in our country believe in a God, as an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfect Creator. Some were bought up going to Sunday School and had religion taught to them at school. But that is now changing. Going back to the Bible and Acts 17, we read of the Apostle Paul in Athens where people generally were very religious. But Paul was upset to see all the idols in the city. He went to the Jewish meeting place to speak to the Jews there, and each day he spoke to everyone he met in the market.
In the Roman world of that time, virtually everyone was religious. He challenged them:
I found an altar with the words “To an Unknown God.” You worship this God, but you don’t really know him. So I want to tell you about him. This God made the world and everything in it. He is the Lord of heaven and earth…He gives life, breath and everything else to all people…He isn’t far from any of us, and he gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are. “We are his children,” just as some of your poets have said. (Acts 17:23-28 – CEV)
Here is the answer. Christianity explains who God is.