Church establishment in the UK is a joke. Neither the Kirk nor the Church of England is the religion of government. That’s no loss, since those churches are corrupt, and true Christianity will never flourish because of government action, anyway. I keep searching the New Testament for the verse telling us a state church is a good idea, but I can’t find it.
There is, however, a religion which has taken control of the government, and its adherents are using government power to push its objectives. The new state religion has many marks of man-made religion — see if you recognise it.
- It uses a strong guilt-based motivational scheme.
- It tries to silence dissenting views.
- It uses compulsion to force even dissenters to live by its precepts.
- It is prepared to inflict costs on everyone to further its aims.
- You can do “bad deeds” and still be ok if you buy indulgences (“carbon credits”).
- Some “high priests” become wealthy through success in indoctrinating followers or selling indulgences, but many lower priests who are “true believers” may not do so well.
- It wants and uses power.
- If you try to teach anyone, especially children, to check its claims to find out if they really hold up, people will be really upset.
- Reality isn’t important. It doesn’t matter if more stuff is recycled than they can handle, and they just shove it in the landfill. If you recycled, that is all that matters.
- It is based on doing good, being good enough, to be able to feel good about yourself, just like most man-made religion.
- It is largely pride-based, as with most man-made religion. Its followers are encouraged to show off, to boast, about how virtuous they are in following its teachings.
Environmentalism is the religion du jour, and that last point on boasting triggered this post. Recently, in a store in Edinburgh, I went into the men’s toilet (men’s restroom, for my U.S. readers :)). On the way in, I was confronted with a sign:
These toilets are fitted with a motion sensor, so the lights only come on when necessary, helping us save electricity.
I think, “OK, good for you, maybe your prices will be cheaper.” (They aren’t.) The light is on already when I enter, and there is no one in there. Maybe the sensor isn’t working, but never worry whether the followers of this religion make true claims or not. They talked about saving electricity (“Save the planet!”) so that’s good, even if actions don’t match. (This religion is SUPERB as a state religion advocated by politicians — talking matters, not action, and the best action is to compel others to be “virtuous” while you don’t bother, driving your petrol-guzzling Jaguars — at taxpayer expense, hopefully! What more could one want in a state religion? :))
So anyway, now I’ve entered the room, and there are more signs:
We’re using waterless urinals to save water.
This toilet has two flushes — by using the smaller button you’ll be helping us save water.
After I wash my hands, there’s this:
These hand dryers work faster and save 80% of the energy used by traditional dryers.
OK, I get it. These people are really, really committed to their religion and making sure everyone knows. They are tithing mint and anise (Matthew 23:23), and you ARE going to know it, whether they forget the weightier matters of judgment, mercy, and faith or not. But if there was any doubt, at the bottom of every sign, in smaller print:
This sign has been made using the waste material produced while we built the store.
So I walked out remembering what I say when my kids extol their innocence and goodness in an attempt to influence me: “Aren’t you virtuous!” (Pity my poor kids :))
And then, I thought of this:
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Man-made religion wants to be seen by man, and please man. We need to please God, and God alone, a truth Jesus emphasised three times in quick succession. The next verses may seem to be about money, but that is only secondary. Their main force in context is that man-made religion is earthbound, and we need to be heaven-focused. We must not seek reward on earth, because once we have that reward, we find it isn’t enough, and it won’t last.
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Christians shouldn’t worship the current state religion. But the greater danger for most Christians is a man-pleasing orientation / mindset marring our worship of the one true God. If we put up virtual signs showing everyone how virtuous we are in practicing our faith, we draw attention to ME rather than God, and we have our reward — an earthbound treasure which will never last. We anchor our hearts to earth, rather than set our affections above.
We don’t need to do that kind of thing. We don’t need human praise. We have a perfect Father.