Why should I believe in organized religion?

Question: "Why should I believe in organized religion?"

The dictionary offers the following as a definition for “religion” - “belief in God or Gods to be worshipped, usually expressed in conduct and ritual; any specific system of belief, worship, etc., often involving a code of ethics.” In light of this definition, the Bible does talk of organized religion, and in many cases the purpose and impacts of "organized religion" are not something that God is pleased with. Listed below are a few examples of where organized religion is described.

Genesis 11:1-9: In perhaps the first instance of organized religion, the descendents of Noah organized themselves to build the tower under the belief system that if they could build it tall enough they would be saved. They believed that their unity was more important than their relationship with God. God stepped in and confused their languages, thus breaking up this religion.

Exodus 6 and following: God had given promises to Abram (Abraham) concerning a special relationship between his descendents and God. However, we see this “organized” for the nation beginning at the Exodus and working through the history of the Israelites. The Ten Commandments, Tabernacle, sacrifice system, etc., were all organized by God and to be followed by the Israelites. Further study of the New Testament clarifies that the end product of this religion was to lead the follower to Christ (Galatians 3; Romans 7). However, many have misunderstood this and have worshipped the elements rather than the True God.

Judges and following: Many of the conflicts experienced by the Israelites involved the conflict of organized religion. Examples include Baal (Judges 6; 1 Kings 18); Dagon (1 Samuel 5); Molech (2 Kings 23:10). God used these religions to display His power by defeating them.

The Gospels: The Pharisees and Sadducees represented organized religion at the time of Christ. Jesus constantly confronted them about their false teachings and hypocritical lifestyles. Many of them changed from this organized religion – Paul is one example.

The Epistles (letters): There were organized groups that mixed the gospel with certain lists of required works. They also sought to put pressure on believers to change and accept this new religion. Galatians and Colossians give warnings about such.

Revelation: Even in the end times, organized religion will have an impact on the world as the Antichrist sets up the one-world religion.

In most cases the end results of “organized religion” distract from the intent of God. However, the Bible does speak of organized Christians (believers) that are part of His plan. He calls them churches. The descriptions from the Book of Acts and the Epistles provide direction that the church is to be organized and interdependent. The organization leads to protection, productivity, and outreach (Acts 2:41-47).

In this case it could better be called an “organized relationship.” There is no plan to reach God (He has reached out to them). There is no pride (all is received by grace). There should be no squabbles over leadership (Christ is the Head – Colossians 1:18). There should be no prejudice (we are all one in Christ – Galatians 3:28). Being organized is not the problem. Following a religion is the problem.

Recommended Resource: The Church: Why Bother? by Philip Yancey.

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Why should I believe in organized religion?