Written by cycleguy on August 22nd, 2013


 Reading while riding in a car.

Riding anything that goes in circles (including the merry-go-round).

Loratab following surgery.

Watching a doctor “fish around” under the skin for an abscess.

Sudden drops in elevators or planes.

What makes you nauseated?  One. Two. All the above?

I go for the All the Above.  A strong stomach for things moving in circles or sudden drops or moving vehicles was never a strong suit for me.  My stomach can handle hot (spicy) food.  My sweat glands can’t.  🙂  My wife thinks it is hugely funny-and likes to tell people-I sweat eating ketchup.  If only I was allowed to tell on her, but my gentlemanly ways forbid me from doing that.  😉

There is something that is more nauseating to me, and churns my stomach more than all I have mentioned.  Ready for it?


The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands make religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.  Craig Groeschel in Soul Detox. 

Andrew Farley, in his book, Naked Gospel wrote:

We may spend our days in what we call our religious duties, and we may fill our devotions with fervor, and still may be miserable.  Nothing can set our hearts at rest but a real acquaintance with God.

I will go on record and make no apologies for it:


With a passion.  So did Jesus.  His disdain for the religion of the religious leaders is landmark and easily seen here.  Contrary to common belief, Jesus did not come to make us religious.  He came to set us free.  Meanwhile,

Religion leads us to focus on the external rather than the internal.


Rules following religious people believe their behavior and beliefs are right and everyone else is wrong.

The real truth is simple, but for some so hard to see:

Righteousness from God comes by faith in Christ alone.

Not faith +


faith+ nothing else.

Religion is Christ + anything.  The Gospel is Christ + nothing.

Religion is all about what I do. The gospel is all about what Jesus has done. 

Religion is all about me. The gospel is all about Jesus. 

Religion highlights my efforts to do what is right. The gospel highlights what Christ has already done. 

Religion puts the burden on me.  The gospel put the burden on Him and what He has done for me.

Got it?  Good.  Pray those who listen Sunday will also “get it.”  I’ll thank you ahead of time for your prayers.

Your turn.  Religion or Gospel?  Where are you these days?  Ever struggled with it? 


41 Comments so far ↓

  1. jeff says:

    OH MY! This is good. I will comment later.

  2. Betty Draper says:

    If ever there was a message that needs to be shared it the one you have wrote about and will share Sunday morning. The demons of hell will fight you on this one.

    Our flesh wants to be religious too…it will battle us every time we try to grab ahold of these truths.

    That’s why I love to be around new Christians, they don’t care about what people think, they experienced Jesus. It’s the next step that can trip us up and makes us work our silly heads off to please God. He is so already only pleased with what His son did.

    There an old southern gospel song, Chorus.
    When He see me, He sees the blood of the lamb
    He see me as worthy and not as I am
    He view me in garments and white as the snow
    For the Lamb of God is worthy and He washed me this I know.

    Will pray.

    • cycleguy says:

      There is something refreshing about new followers of Jesus like you mention Betty. Too bad they pick up all the baggage later. Thanks for your prayers.

  3. Caleb Suko says:

    Yes, religion makes me nauseated too! There are a few other things that also can literally make me feel sick.

    One thing that nauseates me is men who take advantage of women, like two nights ago when I walked past our local prostitutes and saw a guy in a dirty white car pick one of them up. I wanted to do something but I didn’t know what I could do. I felt sick.

    Last night I went to a European league soccer game for the first time and probably the last time in my life. I was sickened by the fans who come to the game looking for fights. It got so bad that security started spraying pepper spray and that’s when I decided to leave. These young men who love to fight just for fun of fighting have literally made me feel sick.

    Religion does the same, it takes something that should be good, like church, and twists it into a man made ritual that is empty and powerless.

    • cycleguy says:

      There is that same sick feeling about religion as is common in the examples you give Caleb. It is sad how people are taken for granted and abused. As for the young men…what a great way to ruin what can be a good evening. Unfortunately, there will always be those types. You are right in your last paragraph about religion.

  4. Definitely struggled with it and sometimes it rears its ugly head.

  5. Daniel says:

    You have hit a home run with this one you have. Top notch. I will be praying for you for Sunday.

  6. Eileen says:

    Well, Bill…you know what I think about religion…I’m in the hater camp too. 😉 “Religion is Christ + anything. The Gospel is Christ + nothing” Love that.

  7. Religion leads to morality; the Gospel leads to salvation. I’m a Gospel guy.

  8. Zee says:

    Coming from a country where Orthodoxy has historically danced a syncretism dance with paganism (a story for another time, if you would like it), if it weren’t for our missionaries who came to Ukraine when I was a kid and showed Christ through their lives and love and a desire to serve, it would’ve taken me a LONG time to become a Christian because while I don’t get carsick or rarely get nauseated from natural causes, religion here drives me up the wall. My boyfriend and I were recently discussing how hard it is to witness to our friends sometimes when all they usually know about “official” Christianity is politically-poisoned Orthodoxy… UGH.

    But God is stronger than religion…

    • cycleguy says:

      For the record: yes I would like it. How about writing a guest post about it? 🙂 Religious people are hard to witness to because of their religion. They tend to be satisfied in it. Your last line is primo.

  9. If I’m honest, other people’s religion upsets me but I’m fine with my own. What I mean is that it’s so easy for us to be religious – I rarely get my alarms triggered by my own religion. It’s just a natural fleshly way to live – believing that we have to add something to grace and the gospel in order to be saved. I don’t really consciously fall into religious thinking, but if I don’t continually break myself out of that then that’s where I’m headed.

  10. floyd says:

    Rock solid defense of Truth. Wow! Right out of the park, sir…

    Yes, I’ve struggled with legalism, was raised that way and it made me sick enough to turn away all together from church instead of just the legalists. It’s a constant fight I think, but I strive to live in humility of the understanding my Father and Savior’s love.

    Praying for you, Bill. Love the passion and wisdom, brother.

    • cycleguy says:

      I think there tend to be two reactions by those raised in legalism- walk away from it or be so intimidated that they stay stuck in it. Glad you walked away only to find your way to grace and the Savior’s love. Thanks for your prayers Floyd.

  11. David says:

    Religion and expectations to be a “certain-way” or to do “thus-and-such” from some of the “leaders” in the church are a big reason why I have not darkened the doorway of a church for a few years now. I’ve served to some degree in 3 different congregations and fell short of what the leaders wanted all 3 times. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not all the fault of those in charge, I have plenty more than my share of shortcomings. But, having experienced the “you-should-be-doing-more” attitude from 3 different angles doesn’t make one want to bust through the doors of another church.

    • cycleguy says:

      Totally understand David. I wish I could sit down with you personally and hear your story. I also wish you could worship here. I am not into the “You should be doing more” shtick.” If anything it should be “i love Jesus so much I want to serve.” What OVCF does is allow people who love Jesus to serve. Stricter “guidelines” are there for those who want to be leaders or teachers. Anyway, I pray you find a place some day where your heart is met with grace and you find peace.

  12. jeff says:

    I couldn’t agree with Mr Groeschel more. You don’t have to be religious to do good things. But some atrocities in history could only have been done by people that thought they were doing God’s work. Religion is a source for evil.
    As for which Gospel one wants to subscribe to as the best and only true one it makes me no difference. They are all about the same to me with slight tweaks. I just can’t get into imagining supernatural happenings and spirits floating around and invading bodies. I certainly don’t welcome any into my body.
    I say believe whatever makes you happy. If thats Jesus then great. If Bhuda thats fine too. I am more concerned with people that drill holes in the heads of those who believe differntly, priests that molest little children, Catholics that kill protestants, etc. in the name of God.
    And I really don’t care if I end up in some Theme Park in the sky with a bunch of dead relatives which is what most of them are selling.

    • cycleguy says:

      i included Craig’s quote because I believe it also (as you can guess). Of course, I would disagree with your statements about some of the other things you mention, but I also agree with you if people flippantly float around the idea of spirits floating, etc. It concerns me as well Jeff with evil things done in the name of religion (including what you suggest about priests,etc). you also know me well enough to know I am concerned about you. 🙂

  13. the Old Adam says:

    Even most Christians feel the need to add something to Christ and His Cross.

    A Pope. A decision. Good works. Seriousness.

    Just a little bit extra. And that is just religion. There’s a lot of it around. But faith? That’s another matter altogether.

  14. Ike says:

    Google “Voddie Bauchman/Is Christianity a religion” for the entire article. I will just give one paragraph.

    I understand what people are trying to say when they eschew the term religion. The goal is to assure skeptics that we are not offering dead ritual and empty tradition. The goal is to paint a picture of a vibrant life with our Lord, Jesus Christ. I get that. However, I do not believe that it is wise, or necessary to commit logical fallacies, and make trite, nonsensical arguments in order to do so. Arguing that Christianity is not a religion is like arguing that America is not a country. I believe honest thinking people laugh when they hear some Christian trying to be hip and relevant by saying something as asinine and illogical as, “I’m not talking about religion… I’m talking about a relationship.” Enough already with the play on words. It’s not our job to make Christianity cool. We just need to make it clear. Unfortunately, since this “Christianity is not a religion” business is out of step with the English language, the history of the Church, and common sense, it compromises the clarity and the integrity of our message. I praise God for the fact that we have a religion and a relationship.

    • cycleguy says:

      Well Ike, very seldom have I disagreed with a comment you have made, but this time, I disagree with Mr. Bauchman. I am not trying to be cool or hip or relevant and actually take offense (only in a slight way) that he would make the statement that anyone decrying “a religion not a relationship” is trying to be. I am not trying to cool, hip or relevant. I don’t think it compromises the clarity and the integrity of the gospel message to to talk about a relationship. Besides, it is possible we are talking about apples and oranges. I am against religion that wants to add Christ + anything. I think my blog highlighted what I saw as different between religion and the gospel. I am almost positive that Mr. B would agree that to add anything to the message of the gospel (salvation by faith in christ) is adding works.

      • Ike says:

        No problem….we can disagree. If the word “religion” is good enough for Edwards-Calvin and Whitfield…..I’m in good company. Also…..that word is in your Bible.

        James 1:26-27

        New International Version (NIV)

        26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

  15. Ed says:

    This is a tough one for me. Usually it’s the Gospel at first coming out of me, but then try as I might, I run into people who make me turn it into religion with all it’s rules.

  16. Ivan says:

    Excellent post, and exactly what I like about the gospels. The message I get from the gospels is that it is all about your personal relationship with God.

    The Christian ethic is deceptively simple — only two rules! (Matthew 22:37-40) — but such rules! Working out what those rules even mean, and how to fit them into your life, is the whole project. You have to stay awake the whole time.

    • cycleguy says:

      The Gospels-the life of Christ- is the best place to know about the life of Jesus and how to have that personal relationship. Good point Ivan. As for the two (what you call rules) “love God and Love people”? The law can tell us what to do. The Gospel gives us the power to fulfill them. Thanks for coming around my way again. Always good to hear from you.

  17. Kari Scare says:

    I’m late to the conversation and unfortunately don’t have time to read through all the comments at the moment, but I wanted to leave a quick comment while I had a minute. Yes, I have struggled with religion, and I still struggle with it. Grew up in a religious church and was in that denomination for 28 years. Been in a different one for 14 years. I guess half isn’t enough to override what I learned, discovered, was modeled, etc., in those formative years. Working on it for sure! I give anyone who reads my blog or my comments permission to tell me when they notice religion in anything I write. Thank you!

    • cycleguy says:

      It is hard after spending 28 years in a religious church to break those chains, but glad to see you are/have done that Kari. I will keep my eyes open for remnants of religion. 🙂

  18. Tami Grandi says:

    Like Kari I am late to this conversation and here are my thoughts (take them as you will):

    Christianity in a sense IS a religion- just like Catholicism, episcopalian, JW’s, mormons, etc. What makes it different is what and/or how we respond to the god of said religion (aka the relationship. If I am to be considered a son/daughter of God (which is clearly stated in the Bible) and adopted into His family (again, clearly stated) then I should have a relationship with him. That’s what family SHOULD be- a close, intimate relationship (I’m not naive enough to think that all families are like mine though). I should have the desire to serve Him and worship Him because of the extent of His love for me.

    J.I. Packer said, “What is a Christian? The question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God for his father.” THAT is relationship plain and simple. What I think it comes down to is how the actual word religion is used (context).

    I think the Farley quote is a good one- and it goes back to 1 Corinthians 13- all of those things are NOTHING without love. “Religion”, relationship it’s all nothing if the true love of Christ is not flowing from your life.

    In a study I am doing it pointed out that Christ took his death with JOY! I knew that, I had read that many many times- but I never internalized it until today- Religion is not about joy- relationship is.

    It’s been a long, somewhat emotional weekend so my thoughts may be a bit disjointed but that is not my intention (obviously)

    • cycleguy says:

      A well-thought out response Tami. I particularly like your comment about JOY being part of a relationship but not religion. Thanks for your comment. Love you much and have a good week.

    • Tami Grandi says:

      and I need to ask- is there any “religion” besides Christianity that has a relationship with their god?