It is true that we respond to God, but religion gets it backwards. Religion is man’s attempt to reach up to God. The message of Christianity is that God reached down to us. Christianity is “Christ-centered” and “God-centered”. Religion is man-centered.
Religion will always require that we do certain things out of our own strength and our own power. It might be wearing certain clothing, saying a specific number of prayers, going to a specific church a certain number of times, fulfilling certain quotas of righteous actions, not doing particular behaviors, etc….
Religion is the idea that we do specific things that impact our standing with God.
But the true gospel message is that we don’t earn any standing with God. He gives us spiritual life only because of His grace work on our behalf. The true gospel message is that we cannot change ourselves, only God can change us by giving us a new heart and by indwelling our lives with His Holy Spirit.
Religion is not the answer. It shouldn’t even be the question.