Have you ever heard someone say the phrase “I do [insert activity] religiously.” I watch football, I run, I eat pizza, follow stocks, listen to music, practice my instrument… religiously. The uses of the words “religious” or “religiously” have developed into a way to describe someone devote, zealous, or deeply invested in a particular subject. The more I think about that phrase the more of a compliment it seems. Really what people are saying is “I’m as devoted to doing [insert activity] as Christians are to serving God.” What a nice thing to say about us!
But is it true? Are we as devoted to serving and loving our God as the world is to its own ambitions? Do we practice our religion religiously? Are we as devoted to studying our Bibles and praying and gathering with the brethren as Buffalo Bills fans (Bills mafia) are to their team?
“I’m a hard worker,” I might say proudly. I put in the time at the office, I take care of things at home, and I put my all into everything I endeavor to do. In Ecclesiastes 9:10 Solomon says “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” I think most people grasp this concept. Work hard, work smart, put your all into all that you do.
Practice your craft religiously. Let no person be able to come to you with fault, to accuse you, to question your credibility. However, be wary lest your craft become your religion. The things of this world are fading (Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 40:8) but the words of our Lord prevail (persist, endure, overcome). There is nothing more profitable we can do on this Earth than to live for God.
When we are “religious” about something, we are zealous, invested, excited, and proficient when it comes to that something. If we love something “religiously” we will never look for excuses to get away from it, but rather look for any opportunity to be about it.
Years ago, I knew someone who built computers “religiously.” He knew everything there was to know about building computers. Whether it was selecting proper components (motherboard, gpu, cpu, ram, storage, etc), or configuring a functional design, or finding a proper power supply, or having compatible parts, or overclocking and reprogramming the rig; he knew it all. His eyes would perk up anytime I threw a computer question his way; following which would be 10 minutes of deep excited conversation. I saw him several times a week during the semester and, needless to say, I learned a lot about computers from him. I eventually went on to build my own.
I hope the analogy is clear. How can our “light so shine” if we have anything but an enthusiastic mastery of our faith? How can we hope to influence others around us if we don’t practice our religion religiously?
“5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-11