Let’s talk about religion.
The word “religion” brings with it the idea of “ceremony” For example, “She exercises religiously.”
Everyone has some religion in their lives. We all have some stack of beliefs and principles that we live by. The question is: Where did we get them?
Let’s look at religion.
“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6
When there is no ultimate authority and order everyone does as he thinks is right.
What happens? I call “Backyard Religion.”
Our story starts in: Judges 17
1 Now there was a man from the mountains of Ephraim, whose name was Micah.2 And he said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you, and on which you put a curse, even saying it in my ears–here is the silver with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, my son!”
Backyard Religion doesn’t put sin in its proper place.
Micah’s confession, came about only because he was afraid of the curse. Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow are two different things.
17: 3 So when he had returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, “I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image; now therefore, I will return it to you.”
She says that she had “wholly dedicated the silver” to the Lord. How can you do something for the Lord that He has said not to do? The worship of images or anything other than the true God is idolatry.
Don’t take that which is to be given to God (i.e. your time, your money, your life, etc.) and use it someplace else.
Backyard Religion is not worship in spirit and in truth.
17:4 Thus he returned the silver to his mother. Then his mother took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to the silversmith, and he made it into a carved image and a molded image; and they were in the house of Micah. 5 The man Micah had a shrine, and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.
Backyard Religion is superficial, it substitutes replicas for the real thing, and makes God into the image we want Him to be. It looks okay on the outside, but it’s phony. Micah’s son was a bogus priest. He was not born of the Tribe of Levi, where the priesthood was ordained by God.
Never operate outside of your anointing and calling.
Look what happens next:
17:7 Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah; he was a Levite, and was staying there.8 The man departed from the city of Bethlehem in Judah to stay wherever he could find a place. Then he came to the mountains of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, as he journeyed. 9And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” So he said to him, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am on my way to find a place to stay.”
A Levite comes through town. Micah knew his priest was bogus. Now here comes the real thing. Many folks buy a less expensive car that ‘looks like” a luxury vehicle. But when the real thing parks beside it, you can see the difference.
Guess what? He may be the real thing, but his ministry is bogus. Another Danger: Operating in our gift outside of the place God intended.
17:10 Micah said to him, “Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten shekels of silver per year, a suit of clothes, and your sustenance.” So the Levite went in.
The ministry is not for sale, and there should be no price tag attached to it!
17:13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!”
Backyard Religion gives us a false sense of security
18:1 In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for itself to dwell in; for until that day their inheritance among the tribes of Israel had not fallen to them. 2 So the children of Dan sent five men of their family from their territory, men of valor from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and search it. They said to them, “Go, search the land.” So they went to the mountains of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there.
Here we have a group of folks who are not willing to wait on God for the promised blessing.
18:3-6 While they were at the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. They turned aside and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What do you have here?”4 He said to them, “Thus and so Micah did for me. He has hired me, and I have become his priest.”5 So they said to him, “Please inquire of God, that we may know whether the journey on which we go will be prosperous.” 6 And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The presence of the LORD be with you on your way.”
Folks on an ungodly mission, meet up with an ungodly priest, and wonder if the Lord will bless them… Birds of a feather flock together. Folks that ain’t right attract other folks that ain’t right. It’s the blind leading the blind.
18:22 When they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house gathered together and overtook the children of Dan. 23 And they called out to the children of Dan. So they turned around and said to Micah, “What ails you, that you have gathered such a company?”
24 So he said, “You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and you have gone away. Now what more do I have? How can you say to me, `What ails you?'”
Micah has to try and rescue his god, when if fact his god should be rescuing him.
You know you’re in bad shape when the thing you’ve been depending on to see you through fails. If your job is your God, what you gonna do when you get laid off? If money is your God, what you gonna do when you’re broke?
Backyard religion… Let us not be guilty of practicing backyard religion, but true religion
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Only what God thinks counts!