Within the Christian community, there are so many disagreements about what it means to be a “real” Christian. Some denominations uphold the idea that proving ourselves through works such as fasting and attending church services is what draws us closer to God. Other denominations believe that our political affiliations determine how real our relationship with Jesus Christ is.
But Jesus said that it only takes one thing for us to be drawn into the salvation that He provided us with — and that one thing is faith. But far too many churches continue to uphold legalistic ideas that only serve to drive a wedge between us and God. Many churches believe that the only way to really be a Christian is to fast intensely throughout the week and attend church services every single Sunday. Although many of those things may give us the outward appearance of being close to God, they don’t always amount to much when we hold them up to the light of the principles that Jesus gave us to follow.
Yes, we are called to be different from the world but we often forget that the same God that preached that we should be different also sat and ate with the “sinners” of His time. We have not been taught to prove our faith. God does not require that we fast and pray a certain amount of times each week to be Christlike. The only thing that God requires of us is faith and genuine love and closeness.
When we attempt to keep up the appearance of being close to Jesus by dressing a certain way and attending as many church services as possible, our faith can begin to amount to nothing more than empty religion. Jesus said that we would know a tree by its fruit. A person can be dressed up in religious acts and, yet, their life can bear fruit that looks like the exact opposite of what Jesus preached.
No matter what the majority of legalistic Christians may believe, a works-based faith does not draw us closer to God. It alienates us from Him.