The word instantly makes us think of Christianity or the faith in a Supreme Being. The dictionary does not concur with our ready presumption. The word “religion” includes all beliefs and ideologies. The belief in a tree is just as much a religion as believing in a Creator. The atheist’s belief in science or in nothing is just as much a religion as a Christian that believes in Jesus Christ. Every ideologue that believes in something or someone is religious. Being religious simply implies that we all adhere to something.
The key to distinguishing these ideologies or religions from one another is in their application and contribution to life. Like Jesus said, “By their fruits, they shall be known.” It is work that sets religions apart (I Tim.2: 5). Ideologies may appeal with their dogma, but their applications make them unacceptable (II Tim.3: 5). Communism, for instance, appealed to people that had to earn a living but not to those that provided the opportunity to earn a living. The first Christians in Jerusalem did sell their properties and shared them (Ac.4: 32-37). It did not take long that they begged for assistance and Paul delivered with the help from Gentile Christians (II Cor.8). Because of the misunderstanding of true religion, he taught his converts that they had to work in order to eat (II Thes.3: 10).
The Christians in Jerusalem did wake up and began to cater toward those that could provide bread (Ja.2). James, their leader, was upset with such favoritism and defined genuine religion as one that helped orphans and widows in their distress (Ja.1: 27). He believed in parity and that faith required deeds (Ja.2: 14-26). In spite of his prudent practicality, James had not remembered the Lord’s or his half-brother’s admonition to make friends with people of means (Lk.16: 9). How can a religion or an ideology help orphans and widows without the providers of work and resources?
Paul was an ideologue. He believed that the Hebrew God supplied all his needs (Phil.4: 19). In reality, he depended on many other Christians and on personal work to sustain his life and ministry (Ac.18: 3). He stayed with many people that could afford having him around like his friend Philemon. Jesus too had wealthy women of means follow him (Mt.27: 55). No religion or ideology can exist by faith alone. It requires ingenuity and multiplicity of labor and sweat to create the means to sustain life and service (Gen.3: 19). That principle is irrevocable and basic to any belief. Judas wanted the perfume the woman poured on Jesus sold and given to the poor. Jesus informed Judas that the perfume would not alter the condition of the poor (Mt.26: 11). I too have learned to be poor by choice and that has weakened my religion. It is not a Christian virtue to sponge off taxpayers or be obnoxious regarding other persuasions. Every human being ought to examine the spirits or views he holds whether they are worth believing in (I Jn.4: 1)?