The Religious Among Us

Amidst all the stories of persecution that came out the week of Resurrection Sunday, it was followed-up with a top ten list of the most religious countries in the world (you can read my thoughts on that here). While nine of the top ten countries are Muslim (the exception being Israel) many of those perceived as the most religious were countries that heavily restricted religious freedom. Therefore, this perceived religiosity is in many ways forced upon people. Such a conclusion causes us to question then, who really constitute the religious among us?
To answer that question we must recognize an important point about who we are. As part of our nature, we are creatures of worship. Much more than an activity, worship is an identity. Therefore, the expectation is that every person worships something. However, what that object of worship is says much about the worshipers.
So, who are the most religious among us? We could argue that all of us are. How can that be when certainly when not everyone claims some sort of religion and even fewer are part of a community within a particular religion? The answer is quite simple. One does not have to identify with a certain recognized religion to be recognized as religious.
One who is religious is identified as a person who has a faithful devotion to some sort of accepted reality. In other words, they worship something they see as true. Although sometimes objects of worship go unrecognized, every person worships something and we can see that worship played out in the way people live. For many their worship falls on the money they can gather, whether it be the savings in the bank or the outward expression of it through the new boat in the garage or car in the driveway. Others worship prestige, while others seek perfection. Whatever the case may be, every person worships something or someone.
With that notion defined, we can go from country to country identifying a general object of worship for each. For the United States, the current trend is to worship anything that falls under the sexual revolution (transgenderism, homosexuality, etc.). For Japan, it is honor that has the highest value. While nearby China worships power. These are certainly generalizations and only act as example, however the simple point is that the most religious isn’t let to a select country, culture, or people group. Instead, the most religious must include all people.
Sadly, the identification of all people as religious also evidences a trend: the worship of self. Each of the areas or worship that can be identified generally lead back to one concept: the idea of self as the object of worship. While each is manifested differently, the source of it all is nothing less than self-motivation, self-preservation, and self-worship. Ultimately the result of self is conflict (cf. James 4:1-3).
True joy, true salvation, and true joy can only be found in the true God. Despite all of the worship that is taking place, all is meaningless unless it is worship of God. So while we can say that every person is religious, few can be called true worshipers. Therefore, such a revelation underscores the need for the gospel to go forth.
Photo “World Map – Abstract Acrylic” courtesy of user Nicolas Raymond and Flickr.