Staying Alive by Greg Albrecht

We can never satisfy all of the demands of religion because religion, and all of its potions and pills, is powerless to produce God’s righteousness in our lives.

With all of our advances in technology and machinery, North Americans still find planting, growing, harvesting, shopping for, preparing and consuming food, a necessary, expensive and time consuming part of staying alive. We’re just as dependent upon food today as Israel was upon God’s daily provision of manna.

In a similar way, our spiritual lives are dependent upon the Bread of Life. The Bible tells us that we have no spiritual life without our Lord and Savior. He gives us new life and sustains that life. The Lord invites us to sit down at his table. He is our host, issuing an invitation to come and eat. He is also the entree, the host, the manna from heaven which we eat and drink (John 6:53-58).

Enter religion. The simple and profound eternal significance of Jesus, our Bread of Life, is not enough for religion. Religion is always seeking to “improve” biblical Christianity. Religion insists that Jesus is not enough, and that we need more than the spiritual food he provides.

Religion convinces us that we must produce our own food, that we must enter God’s spiritual kitchen and perform like a frenzied short-order cook, frantically mixing, blending, frying, baking and broiling. But God has not invited us into the kitchen. Our place is sitting down at the Lord’s Table, not stewing in the kitchen.

Religion not only mandates that we must have a hand in producing the spiritual food we need, but religion gives us strict lists and precise recipes that we must follow. Religion assures us that our compliance to its rituals, prescriptions, formulas and cookbooks will enable us to help manufacture our salvation.

Religion assures us that our performance as chief cook and bottle washer will produce a product that will please and appease God. Religious ingredients vary, but they always focus on how often and how much we must do specific things. In the end, all of this effort leads us to be slaves of religion. Religion effectively convinces us to cook our own spiritual goose!

Religion promises to produce righteousness and to fix spiritual problems by adjusting, modifying and increasing physical deeds and performance. We are doomed if we rely on religion’s prescriptions for our salvation — we will wind up like the man in one of Mark Twain’s stories.

Mark Twain tells of a man who was terminally ill, but his doctor told him that he would recover if he would stop drinking, smoking and overeating. He followed the doctor’s instructions and his sickness disappeared. Shortly thereafter, he was talking to one of his friends who was suffering from the same symptoms. The man who had recovered told his friend that he should do exactly what his doctor told him — stop drinking, smoking and overeating. His friend said, “But I’ve never done any of those things. I can’t stop doing what I never did!” The man who had recovered after following his doctor’s orders shook his head and said, “Well, I guess you’re sunk then.”

Religion will always sink us. We will always be left with some impossible prescriptions and treatment regimens. Something to stop doing that we may have never done in the first place. We can never satisfy all of the demands of religion because religion, and all of its potions and pills, is powerless to produce God’s righteousness in our lives.

Jesus Christ has a different way to produce what he wants us to become. He tells us that he is the Master Chef, and that there is room for only one cook in his kitchen. He is both the cook as well as being the perfect ingredient for the Bread of Life.

Jesus then invites us to his table, where he is being served.

The end product of biblical Christianity is what God has done. For religion, the end product is what humans have done, are doing and will do. At whose table are you eating?

March/April 2004 Plain Truth
— Greg Albrecht

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