You heard me correctly. Religion, which is defined by Webster as “An organized system of beliefs, rites and celebrations centered on a supernatural being power;” should be the means by which people come to trust and believe in God. And when religion does what it is supposed to do, i.e. bring people into a proper relationship with God through observance to His commandments and performance of the rites He requires, it works as it should.
So why do I say religion is the reason people reject God? Because we see, every day, and we hear, from many people, how their upbringing in a religion (I include all religions) has turned them off to God. In many cases, they reject not just the religion, but the power behind the religion, which they wrongly assume to be God.
That is where religion fails those who follow it, and also fails to serve God’s plan of salvation, and it happens in every religion because God has no religion! God gave us His rules for living, for worship and for interpersonal relationships. He told us how to work with each other, how to love and care for each other, and how to worship Him. He even sent His son, Yeshua ha Maschiach, to show us exactly what He meant, and (ultimately) to pay the price for our inability to do as God told us we must. Despite that, we still have different religions in the world today, all creations of men who have wanted to worship God their own way.
Even Judaism, which was given the Torah to show everyone how God wants us to be, has changed the rules; we have created Halakha (the Way to Walk, found in the Talmud, a man-made set of rules) and now have 6 different sects of Judaism: Chasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Messianic.
Those people who have created different religions “sell” their religion by approaching people who are fed up with the current religion, and offer more “appealing” rites, rituals and promises. Even as far back as just after Yeshua was resurrected and ascended into the heavens, the Elders of the Messianic Community (there was no “church” in the First Century) reduced the immediate observance requirements for Gentile converts to Judaism (that is what was required when a pagan began to trust in and follow Yeshua/Jesus) to just 4 requirements (Acts 15); these were not the only expected changes in behavior but just what was needed to be done immediately after converting. When you read the entire chapter you will see that James confirmed the words of Moses would be heard by these new converts every Shabbat in the temples. That means that the requirements under the Torah were still expected to be observed, but just not all at once. This was done so that the pagans converting to a totally different religion than the one they had grown up with would not find the process so difficult that they would just give up.
And that is how all the different religions came to be- by appealing to those who found what they were doing too cumbersome, or spiritually unfulfilling. That could be the fault of the leaders, the rites that were created, or both, but it still resulted in those people rejecting the religion, and in some cases, also rejecting the god behind that religion.
I don’t need to justify that statement with surveys or formal studies because my reasoning comes from plain old common sense: when you don’t like something you are required to do, and you are offered something more attractive and enjoyable, then you go with your feelings: that’s human nature. Each new religion has taken from it’s parent and changed what needed to be done to present itself as more fulfilling, spiritually, mentally and physically. And each time a new religion is “spun-off” from the original, it changes the way they worship God and treat each other.
God, on the other hand, never changes, and therefor what He said He wants us to do never changes, either.
Finally, religion is seen as representing God, isn’t it? I mean, if I am a member of a religion, and that religion tells me I worship this way, I act this way and I believe this way, then I can only conclude that is what the god of that religion has ordered. After all, when Popes, Rabbis, Ministerial Councils- whatever religious authority is in charge- tells us these are the canon, and these are the holidays, and these are the prayers, etc. that we use when we worship God, it is not because they say ,”This is what I want you to do.”; they say it is because that is how God wants us to be. It’s all God’s fault. So, understandably enough, when someone rejects their religion, they reject the god that religion has told them is behind all these rules and regulations. And if I go so far as to reject the validity of what a religion is telling me, obviously I must reject as valid (or existing) the god behind that religion.
I am using the small ‘g’ for God is some cases because I believe that so many religions have gone so far astray from what the true God has told us to do that their god is not the God, and as such doesn’t deserve to have the word capitalized.
Strong words… I know; strong sentiment and a truly viral accusation…I know that, too. But do you really think I am wrong when I say that religion is the reason people (end up) not believing in God?
One day, when Messiah returns and all people will do as we are told in Isaiah 45:23, then all people will be worshiping God as God said we should. There will be no more religion to confuse and cause people to reject God because there will be just the one Messiah ruling the world, and we will all know the One God and worship Him correctly, together.