Many people associate being a Christian with nothing more than going to church. Those of us who have invited Christ into our lives as Lord and Savior know that Christianity is a relationship, and that church attendance or religion is only part of what we do in practice or living out our faith. How good of a job have we done to help the godless world see this distinction?
Religion is really nothing more than a set of beliefs, rituals, form of worship, ordinances, or other practices that define a particular faith. When the non-Christian world sees this without a relationship it is not surprising many of them are turned off to religion. Why should people want to become part of nothing more than a set of rules and form of worship?
Isaiah 29:13 gives a description of religion relevant for today. "Because this people draw near with their words and honor me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from me, and their reverance for me consists of tradition learned by rote." Is not this exactly what is happening in many churches today? It is religion without relationship.
Now, if we turn to James 1:26-27 we see a totally different definition. "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."
So, true religion is how our relationship with Christ plays out in the world outside the walls of the local church, in the three ways listed in these two verses: our speech, purity, and actions toward the needy. (There are other ways besides these, of course.) To what extent are you and I demonstrating our relationship with Christ so that the world can see past the religion part?
We need to take it one step further, though, by asking people if they have ever considered having a personal relationship with Christ.