words to live by
by Elizabeth de Barros
“That we shall communicate
not just what comes to mind,
but that which is in accord
Assumptions can be costly.
For centuries, men have erected shrines of their own making, gargantuan masterpieces to honor a God Whom they believe gives nod to their monuments of cavernous proportions and elaborate detail.
In 1883, an idea costing muchos pesos combined with a massive land donation brought forth the Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito, Ecuador to commemorate the country’s devotion to the Sacred Heart. Men and women came donating stones in exchange for having their names engraved on them. Technically “unfinished,” it’s been said that “when the Basílica is completed, the end of the world will come.”
But God is not moved by stone.
Religion, no matter what form it takes, is a wall of great heights, a seeming protection — a pseudo-spiritual alibi for the sinner. Whether the object of affection is in the artistic fenestration of a narthex, hideous array of gargoyles or the furnishing of a Gothic spire, it’s always something that represents what men think God also admires. But He does not concern Himself with temples built by human hands.
And yet, there is another set of religious lies far more common, which distort the grace of God, allowing us to persist on our own terms. A veritable spree which is actually a cover-up for wickedness.
“I can’t help it, I’m just wired this way.”
“God understands my needs.”
“Jesus wants me to be happy, right?”
Apart from its many vestments, the distinguishing marks of man-centered religion are always the same: they either focus on externals or diminish personal accountability.
But Jesus said:
“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you,
That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
-Matthew 12:35-37 (KJV)
Unless we rid ourselves of the last traces of religion, we will inevitably end up following our own dictates and remain bound, building castles in the sky, impressed by what our own hands have made, unaware that God is far more particular about what it is we say and do.
Purify my lips and guard my steps, O Lord. ♦