Religion without the Rules
When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves . . . They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts.
—Romans 2:14-15 (NIV)
KENNETH L. SAMUEL | For a long time, John Lennon’s famous lines from his iconic song, “Imagine,” haunted me:
Imagine there’s no heaven It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky...
Imagine there’s no countries It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too.
A consciousness and a community without the moral safeguards and guidelines of a clearly defined religious order frightened me. Much of my fear stemmed from a deep distrust of my own basic instincts. But as I’ve walked with God over time, I’ve actually discovered that quite a few of my basic instincts have more moral value than the rules mandated by religion. In so many instances, I’ve found my own visceral instincts to be more genuine and more generous than the stipulations of prescribed religious dogma.
We don’t really trust God until we trust what God has placed in our hearts. Catechisms that cater to religious protocol pale in comparison to the deep desires, delights and inqui- ries that God has deposited in our hearts. There is so much heavenly treasure in broken earthen vessels.
Saint Augustine said: “Love God and do whatever you please.” Today, I only have prob- lems with Augustine’s brazen invitation when I doubt that the kingdom of God is within me.
PRAYER Lord, reveal yourself to us through the meditations of our hearts.

About the Writer:
KENNETH L. SAMUEL is Pastor of Victory for the World Church (UCC) in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He is the author of Solomon’s Success: Four Essential Keys to Leadership.

Source: “Running from Empty” | 2023 Lent Devotional by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group, made up of United Church of Christ ministers and writers who collaborate on resources for people in the church, outside the church, and not sure about the church.