The Seduction of Religion
The problem for Christianity as a faith is that while it is inherently anti-religious, it also borrows from the language and forms of religion in order to subvert religion. The problem here is that many Christians don't get it.
Christianity is the opposite of all forms of religion.
Religion tries to solve the basic human problem of alienation from God, each other and ourselves. Religion comes from the basic belief that God (or the gods) is angry with us and that we can in some way buy our peace with Him through prescribed behaviour, whether that be through a sacrifice of animals or human beings, or through other patterns of worship and/or right living.
The word religion actually means to tie oneself again, so in a religion we tie ourselves to a particular deity by our activities. The same process allows us to identify with others and by setting out our relationship with the gods and with others then we can know our place in the world and deal with the self-alienation that can make us so miserable.
It's a great system and allows us to feel like we are in control of a universe that is bigger, stranger and more powerful than we are. By placating the gods we can control their behaviour.
God has messed up the system by demanding that we let go of our attempts to control Him. He has done it comprehensively by sending His own Son into the world to be our sacrifice.
No more animals, no more human sacrifice, no more incense. Nothing can even come close to this. God Himself is the sacrifice.
All we can do is respond to that by humbly receiving it and thanking Him for it.
But if God supplies the sacrifice for our sins, then he has crippled the religious impulse. We can no longer bring our own sacrifices and demand His submission to us. No, the only legitimate response is for us to submit to Him.
The religious spirit is very resilient and rises up. I'm saved, so I'm better than those who are not saved. I worship in spirit and truth, therefore my worship is better than that of those who worship in a different form.
And so the battle against God keeps on surfacing. In the end it's all about who will be God in my life- God or me.
That's why Jesus was so insistent that those who follow Him must take up their cross and die to themselves. The trouble is that we don't like the cross and we keep getting off it before we are truly dead.
The way of true freedom comes in killing the religious spirit and every impulse to please God. Then we are free to receive His grace and live in a simple relationship of love.