Two days each week I volunteer at the dialysis ward of a local hospital which consists of making coffee and handing out cookies (biscuits),then having a chat with some of the patients. During that time I have gotten to know many of the nurses while making coffees in their break room and talked about everything from sports, to politics, holiday trips, or family. Last week for the first time I was able to have a very different conversation about religion and the Bible.
A few of the nurses were talking about their religious background and how the Churches they grew up in as children had turned them off to the idea of God altogether. One of the in particular who grew up in the Catholic Church was angry about the rules that were placed upon her at an early age and their attitude towards women. For a few minutes I waited for the right opportunity to get involved in the conversation and then shared my belief that most religions are focused on legalism or control of others instead of drawing us closer to God.
They probably didn’t expect to hear that from me knowing that I was a minister but there is a frustration in my heart towards the idea of religion because it hinders the unsaved from accepting Christ. They are founded upon a belief that by keeping rules you can make yourself Holy in the eyes of God which is foolish because He demands complete Holiness that we could never live up to. Religion is also hypocritical because it focuses on a persons outer actions instead of the relationship of their heart with God. The emphasis is on control or forcing you do something which usually ends in bitterness.
While filling the cups with hot water I tried to explain that there is a true difference between religion which they had experienced, and being a Christian. Instead of working your way up to God you accept the free gift of Salvation and become His child. Now you obey not because of someone’s pressure, but because of God’s Love and the Sacrifice Christ made for you. A few minutes later our conversation was over but I pray that the Lord allowed what I had said to soften their hearts to the Gospel
Working in volunteer roles allows me to befriend many people who have been wounded by religion, many of them going from one religious group to another seeking for fulfillment but finding none. And in most cases they don’t bring up the subject of religion or God because it uncovers those painful experiences and an attitude of bitterness. Thats why I began praying with renewed energy last week that God would give me more opportunities to have conversations about my own relationship with Jesus Christ. And through that testimony to show others that there is a big difference between religion and Salvation.
Because of Who He is,