How much of life is religious, and how much is not? How much has to do with God, and how much does not? Is “church time” the religious part, and outside church, life is not? A response of Jesus addressed this issue when He answered the question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus’ answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:36-39). These two commandments encompass all of life, so all of life is spiritual, sacred, religious.
Based on the first part of Jesus’ answer, God is keenly interested in all my thoughts, all my plans, how I reason things out, the conclusions I arrive at, the intentions of my heart, the secret things, what I feed my heart, my emotional state, how I use my abilities and skills in the world, and how I deal with sins, weaknesses, and frailties. Also, He cares about every interaction I have with other human beings, how I like or dislike them, how I help or withhold help. So there is not a single area of life that is outside the umbrella of spirituality or religion.
(By religion, I mean religious in the good, biblical sense as in James 1:27, in which one has a holy attitude towards God and good works toward people; this is only accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit in a submissive soul. Religion is another word that has been corrupted in the Christian sphere to mean something man-made: “Relationship, not religion!”)
Jesus summed up His answer with, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40). In other words, all the 800+ laws in the Old Testament were a reflection of these two laws. Every law in the society God fashioned for the Israeli people (in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy) were to reflect a people who live for a holy God. The priesthood laws were to help sinners to relate to a holy God; all the laws of society helped sinners to get along with each other.
Today when we read The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), we know how we are to relate to God and to each other, and to discover our sin. If we review them and find ourselves law-breakers, then we found an area where we’ve departed from God’s best and need to return to Him to receive the grace we need for daily living. All of life is religious because we are sinners by nature, but through God we overcome our sinfulness in life’s ordinary circumstances.
We are fallen in every area of our being — all our heart, soul, mind, and strength have been corrupted by the Fall. We need God to change us in every area. We need every part brought under His care, that our relationships with God and mankind may be healed. We partner with God in this healing through the Word and prayer. Through the Word we learn of our faults, a better way to live, and receive the hope to overcome it. Through prayer we bring the issue to God for healing and power to live a better way.
God has no interest in a people who simply go to church every Sunday (or Saturday evening), and display their best behavior throughout the week. He is looking for people who have accepted the good news that Jesus came to save them from their sins (Matthew 1:21), and who have therefore given up their lives for Him to overcome those sins in their lives, because all of their lives have been tainted by sin. The activities of the heart, soul, mind, and strength are re-examined in the light of Scripture; every step we take now falls under the gaze of God. The reformation of these things is not seen in simply going to church, but in becoming more like Jesus.