Religion. It’s something we’re not supposed to talk about at parties. I love Jesus but something in me cringes if someone calls me religious – it has a negative connotation for me. I think of zealots. People who picket instead of feed or love. Throughout history, horrible acts – bombing, murder, beheading – have been done in the name of religion – and still are. I am about relationship. Relationship with God, Jesus and others. There is much that bothers me about religion.
Let me be clear – I am not bashing church. Jesus established the church for Christians to worship, pray and encourage one another. Church is supposed to be a hub where we get what we need to be light in the world. If you are a Christian, you are the church, I am the church. Church done right reflects the unconditional love of Christ – it brings the kingdom from up there to down here.
When I talk about religion, I am talking about man made rules and legalism. Stuff that has nothing to do with Jesus and feels like control. People who put their own thoughts, views and interpretations on who Jesus is and what it means to be His follower. Pharisees. Those more interested in establishing what they think is right and a system for judging those who differ.
Jesus was always ticking off Pharisees – another reason I love Jesus. He was always going against their man made laws disguised as religious doctrine. He ate with sinners, healed on the Sabbath and regularly challenged their rules publicly. Jesus had a lot to say to and about Pharisees.
In Matthew 23:28 Jesus calls them out – “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness”
In the past, this has been me. I thought being Christian meant I had to have it all together. After all, I was supposed to be new and done with “old ways.” I forced myself into a version of who I thought I was supposed to be. I learned church lingo and to quote scripture when people had problems. I basically faked it because I wanted to fit in and be accepted. Christian meant I had to fit the mold. I was one person in my regular life and another at church. My sin, my weaknesses were never spoken of or confessed because at church we’re all perfect. There is a difference between church culture and the church.Legalism, rules and sameness have nothing to do with loving and following Jesus. Click To Tweet
Part of why I want to write this blog is to encourage those, like me, who may not fit the mold. I want to say there is room – Jesus has a place for imperfect, human you. God loves all of us.
- He loves the atheist
- the person who is gay
- the one who had the abortion
- the imperfect Christian – all of us.
Jesus came to save the world and He is the Way, the truth and the light – not religion.
How have you been turned off or hurt by religion?