My wife and I have been witnessing and sharing the Gospel with a neighbour of ours for the last few years. She has even come to a church service with us on one occasion. During the time we’ve got to know her, she has increasingly opened up about her personal life and all the struggles that come with it. She has even shared with us painful experiences from her past. However, what has saddened us most as we’ve listened to her is that during her life she has been exposed to a lot of religion. In fact, she is quite well versed in the language we as Christians are familiar with. Her story is fairly common amongst many people in the UK: they went to Sunday school; attended Christmas and Easter services; and, occasionally went to the odd funeral, christening, baptism or something along those lines. After this, the big ‘goodbye’ and they never step foot inside a church service again.

During her life, she has had a lot of religious people (most of these were leaders in churches) give her so-called religious advice about various circumstances pertaining to her life. Seldom did anyone open the Bible and explain to her the meaning and significance of what it has to say. Sadly, our friend is now suspicious of anyone who talks to her about faith and whenever we do go into any meaningful spiritual discussion, it evokes a lot of painful memories. In particular, she recalls with a great amount of detail the fear and dread of attending Roman Catholic services as a little girl after the things she experienced. She explained how she was forced to obey empty rules, rituals and traditions which were never explained to her.

This morning, she brought an Easter gift for our little baby daughter. We invited her in as usual and made her a cup of tea. I then asked her if she would like to join me for some Bible study. She gladly accepted my offer. So, over tea, we opened up the Bible on our dining table and simply read from the Gospel according to John chapter 4 (the story of Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman) and the Gospel according to Luke chapter 15 (the story of the prodigal son). As we slowly and carefully read the passages, I explained to her the simple meaning in their context. We spoke about the various themes of sin, forgiveness and grace. We spoke about the character of God and the person of Jesus Christ. I sensed on her facial expression that it speaking to her and she was understanding it. She said, “I feel different because no one has explained it to me like this before.”

After she left, I couldn’t help but think to myself of the damaging consequences of dead religion. I wonder how many people are out there like our friend? Whilst I believe that God’s grace eventually has its effect on His elect, how damning will it be for the blind religious leaders of our nation who are not only teaching a false Gospel but peddling a distorted version of Christianity. I rest in the assurance that God will have his way.

If you are reading this and you have been given a responsibility for leading or teaching people, you would do well to carefully read Jesus’ words found in Matthew 23.

Please pray for our friend’s salvation. Please also pray for us that we would be found faithful in our Master’s hands.