In The Believer's Secret of a Perfect Heart Andrew Murray he defines religion this way (paraphrased by me):
I was created to live for God - to show His glory by allowing God to show how completely
He can reveal His spiritual likeness and blessedness in me.I found this definition to be a blessing and so different from other definitions or even one I would come up. When "I show His (God's) glory" how do I act?
I am loving.
I care for widows and orphans in need. (James 1:27)
I make decisions based NOT on what brings ME comfort, happiness or glory, but on what will most please God.
And what pleases God?
He wants to bring ALL people to Himself. He is willing that NONE should perish. (2 Peter 3:9) He sees even when the sparrow falls. He wipes away tears. (Isaiah 25:8) He wants all gaps closed, all road blocks removed, all chasms spanned, all to be one in Him, united with him in perfect harmony. (Colossians 1:20) My acts, if I am revealing Him, should RESTORE. Not divide. Not dissuade. Not discourage.
He wants to restore us to Eden. He wants us to be in perfect fellowship with Him and with each other just like we were in that epic story of the garden. Before we thought we knew better and could go it alone. That's when pride, jealousy, worry, tears, anguish and negativity entered our world and to this day, is still working to destroy it. Separation from God will do that. It destroys us and our relationship with each other and with all living things around us.
So if salvation is restoration, than it kind of takes all the emphasis off of me, doesn't it?
I can't restore my relationship with God. I couldn't tidy up the garden, put the fruit half eaten back on the tree and pretend I didn't notice I was naked. What was done, was done.
But it wasn't finished.
God stepped in as the the Great Restorer. The beauty of our religion is that our God COMES TO US! We don't have to go searching for salvation, for restoration - our GRACIOUS RESTORER sent his only Son to restore us fully into right standing with him. Jesus, who prays in the Garden, "Lord, not my will be done, but your's" dies to restore us on to himself and in doing so, Eden awaits. Perfect communion with God can be attained. God's glory revealed in his Son saved us, now, that same glory remains, abides and is revealed in us - and THAT is RELIGION.
It is not our church attendance, our gold crosses, our political affiliation, our "beliefs", our recitation of creeds, our knowledge of doctrine, our stained glass mega-churches or even our fish logo...
In fact, my religion is not about me.
It's about what God did as the Great Restorer. Any good I do, does not save me. It is simply God's glory shining through me. I am only a branch; Jesus is the vine. He is the one with roots that draw in nourishment and give life. I am just an extension of Him and without Him I fade and wither. (John 15:5) Is my religion all about me or all about what God is doing in and through me to restore me and to restore others into communion with Him?
The selfish definition of salvation is this: I am saved from hell. Yay for me!
The fuller definition is: RESTORATION.
What Jesus did on the cross brought me into right standing with God. How I live now, doesn't determine my right standing, it demonstrates where I am in the restoration process. How restored am I? How much do I look like my Restorer? How much do I act like Him?
Someday, I will join my Restorer in the new heaven and earth and I think the welcome sign over that new world will read:
What a great restoration day that will be!
"All things get more beautiful as they move toward God and uglier as they move away."
Hope A. Horner, 2012
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Link to book: http://www.amazon.com/Believers-Perfect-Christian-maturity-library/dp/0871234254