Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:26-27 (NIV)
Several years ago, I was trained to work with wood and even taught woodworking classes in public school. At the time of my training, the wood that we used was what we called ‘solid wood’. Solid wood was wood that came from trees that had been cut and dried. In rare incidents, we would use plywood rather than gluing several narrow pieces together to get one large surface.
Plywood was made by taking thin layers of solid wood and gluing them together in such a way that the grain of the wood ran perpendicular to the layer being glued on either side of any given layer. This process allowed a person to use inexpensive solid wood and cover it with a very thin layer of expensive wood, giving the plywood that ‘expensive look’ without spending a lot of money.
Plywood had some advantages in that they were much larger pieces that could be used for those large surfaces. In most cases, plywood came in 4 feet by 8 feet sheets with thicknesses ranging between ¼ inch to 1 inch. Plywood could be used for large flat surfaces, without having to glue several narrow pieces together to make one large surface.
Second, the plywood was less apt to warp than solid wood. The fibers, or grain in each layer of the plywood ran in different directions giving the plywood strength. When one layer wanted to warp one way and the next layer wanted to warp in a different direction but together they stayed flat.
The problem with plywood was the glue that held it together. As long as the glue held, the plywood was strong. But If the glue got wet, the layers of plywood would begin to separate. They no longer had the support of the other layers in the plywood so each layer would go its own direction. Once this happens, the wood is no longer attractive or usable.
Over the years, as wood got more expensive, man tried to make cheap wood that still looked good on the surface. This new wood was called particle board. Particle board used scrap pieces of wood that had been ground into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces were mixed with glue and pressed together to make large flat surfaces. After the glue had dried, a thin layer of solid wood, called veneer was glued to the surface of the particle board. Looking at the surface of the veneered particle board, it would look exactly like a piece of plywood.
Although the particle board was beautiful when it was new, there was one problem. The particle board didn’t have any fiber to provide strength. The only strength it had was the glue that held it together. When it got damp, the little particles of wood in the particle board would expand causing the glue to lose its grip on the adjoining particles of wood. The particle board would begin to warp and it eventually disintegrated into piles of sawdust.
What does wood have to do with religion?
The religion that God wants is like the solid wood. It withstand the pressures put against it without getting all bent out of shape. This is why God gave the Children of Israel the law. The Law allowed the people to know when they were doing something that God disapproved of, in other words they were ‘getting bent out of shape’
At this time, the people would offer sacrifices as a way of showing God that they repented of their sin and that they wanted to be bent back into shape. Because of God’s grace, He had a better plan. He offered his son, Jesus to be our sacrifice die for our sin once for all sin, so that we can be the person we should be. Jesus didn’t stay dead but was raised again.
When Jesus told his disciples that he was going to die, he promised that he would send a Comforter who would guide them just as Jesus guided his disciples. The Comforter is the Holy Spirit.
You see, religion is like wood. God is the fiber of the solid wood. Different religions may see God from a different perspective, but they still see him as God. These differences in our belief in God helps make strong just like the fiber in plywood makes the plywood strong. Our beliefs are different, but we still believe in God. Just like the glue holds the layers of wood together to form plywood, so the Holy Spirit hold our lives together to form His Church.
When you have God for the fiber and Holy Spirit holding the fiber together, you are strong and when you are tested and tried you remain unchanged.
On the other hand, if you are like particle board, you grind God up and only use the parts you want, then glue the parts back together to our liking and with our own selfish desires. To the world, we look good on the surface for a while. But when we are tested, we become like saw dust. Or like Isaiah writes in Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
NOTE: All scripture referenced above was copied from: http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV