“Christ is not the bringer of a new religion, but rather the one who brings God.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jesus Christ and the Essence of Christianity.
Where the church has gone wrong, I believe, is that we have seen Jesus as a way to get to God. But, he did not come to develop a new way for us to get to God, as though he was the architect of a new Tower of Babel.
No, he is the bringer of God to us. Jesus is the way God enters our lives, enters our souls, so that we can be transformed by his presence. The moment we begin to believe in Jesus as the bringer of God to us, we are one with him. There is no climbing the Tower, there is no escalation process. We are one with God and there is not a moment his presence leaves us.
The experience of the presence of God is not accomplished by adding religious practices. Religious practices are a response of gratitude and witness. We are thankful to God for his presence, so we worship. We want to bear witness to the presence of God, so we practice communion. And so on.
What then is the purpose of Christian religious practices? What we may call religion is the participation with God in his salvation plan of others. By learning how to obey Jesus we learn how to show others the gospel.
Religion, which includes studying Scripture, participating in prayer and fellowship, and practicing Christian disciplines, are an extension of the presence of God, not a way to the presence of God.
God is here. How we behave is a reflection of our enjoyment of, and dependence on the presence of God.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col. 3:17 (ESV)