There is a tendency to think that because we say religious words, read the Bible, make spiritual comments and actually practice some of the disciplines or go to church that we are also living the depths of holiness.
Gregory Fruehwirth wrote, “There is a great chasm between thought and words and actual life, and one needs to be very vigilant not to fool oneself. And what goes for words goes for the rest of the religious stuff in our lives as well, be it rituals or icons or prayer ropes or even a contemplative prayer practice. Taking on external demands and practices is indeed essential, but it is only the first step, and to use it as a cloak for a lack of conversion to living in the depths is a constant danger.”
This is when I find that God can become a subjective trinket that can be used to soothe our conscience or to be the source of conversation and language that have religious sounds but with hollow meaning. At this point the God trinket might be added to our other trinkets in an attempt to both appease God and ourselves. Neither is much affected, because a certain depth of reality has not penetrated our religious skin to get to our heart. To be only religious in thought and practice is an escape from living the gospel in a real and complex world. Perhaps the greatest delusion is to practice our righteousness before ourselves and actually start to believe it. Or to seriously believe that we really are what we pretend to be. Now that’s some scary stuff right there.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Jesus