I Have No Special Religious Requirements
I recently took one of my daughters to hospital for something minor. Although it wasn’t anything too serious, she had to be admitted and was required to stay overnight. During the admission process my wife and I were asked the following question:
“Do you have any special religious requirements?”
I thought about the question for a moment, and then answered, “No.”
What Special Religious Requirements?
I stayed over in the children’s ward with my daughter. Maybe it was the lack of sleep as I lay in a fold-out bed, but the nurse’s question kept coming back to me. I was thinking about the variety of people who may stay in this hospital and to whom this question would be very important—for they had special religious requirements.
- Stipulated times for prayer
- Set locations for prayer / worship
- Prohibitions for certain food and drink
- Required washings
- Restrictions as to who they could have contact with (gender / race)
This list could easily grow longer if you considered in more detail the religions of the world, or outlined the ceremonial requirements of God’s people under the Old Covenant.
Jesus Has Met Every Possible Special Religious Requirement
Why could I answer this nurse’s question with a “No”?
Because I know and trust Jesus.
He has met every possible special religious requirement. God accepts me and receives me as His, not on the basis of my meeting certain religious requirements, but on the basis of Jesus’ perfect work on my behalf.
- My prayers and worship are received because of Christ’s intercession on my behalf. I pray in His name, not my own.
- I’m clean because He cleanses me, not because I’ve washed myself.
- I can receive all food and drink, if it is received with thanksgiving.
- Far from restricting contact with certain people, following the example of my Lord, I can go even to the unclean leper.
Offering Grace Not Burden
The consequence of Jesus Christ’s work in the life of a Christian is that we don’t need to impose burdens on nurses, forcing people to meet our special religious requirements. Instead, we can offer them grace, freedom, and hope—found only in the good news of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Having this question in the back of my mind while reading the Book of Hebrews really brought it to life. I don’t have the experience of being under the Old Covenant, but I can relate to people who go to hospital with lists of “special religious requirements”. Jesus is far greater!
Having thought through a question I’d never been asked before, I’m better prepared for next time and I pray that I’ll be much bolder in gospel conversation. This truly is the reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15).
In what surprising ways do you find the gospel comes up in ordinary, everyday conversation?