this is a call out for all those who steep themselves in religion, all things rigid, and live as if a set of laws could possibly bring validation to an individual’s life. Perhaps this is as much of a wake up call for you as it is me.
More and more I find following Jesus is less about the rules and regulations and about the absolute power of unconditional love and affection. As much as we’d like to think life is defined by right-and-wrong system, a contention could be made for a reality that is guided by a gray, push and pull tension of conflicts and wrestlings.
Don’t we get it? Legalism exists because love doesn’t. We think these certain systems are going to achieve us certain righteousness; that our small group attendance, certain friendships, and spiritual practices will equate into spiritual authority. But that’s legalism friends; it’s the belief that explicit action will bring us to spiritual nirvana; it’s a life lived empty of the supernatural love of God.
Throw your religion away friends; throw it away. Religion leads us unto ourselves and into a life of self-reliance and false realities. But Jesus, the embodiment of relationship and everything lovely, leads us to a reality void of ourselves and full of his love and abundance.
Yet, I empathize.
I get it. I’m a pastor’s kid and I used to be steeped in religion. If I said all the right things, went to all the right stuff, and prayed enough I would somehow feel God’s love and be cherry for the rest of my life. I think this is the downfall of the Christian upbringing; we grow up with the head knowledge of following Jesus and, for many, carrying the cross of surrender and obedience never becomes a reality.
Inevitably, we are raised to believe that doing “a, b, c” will yield us “1, 2, 3”; in other words, our spiritual practices will equate into a beautiful relationship with the loving God. For some, this turns out to be a brilliant and wonderful result. For the majority, all life becomes is empty religion composed of burdensome rules and regulations.
For me, Christ found me in such a broken state produced by broken religion. I felt as if I had done all the right things, said all the right stuff, and prayed enough to be above average in spirituality. It wasn’t until Jesus’ love met me in such a unique and special way that my life changed; my boxes of religion were broken, my misconceptions of relationship were thrown out the window, and I found God to be anything, but rigid.
For those living in religion, I am saddened. Not because you are somehow tarnishing the name of God; I could not care less about that. I could not care less about the kind of reputation “you” are giving Christians; Christ is more than sufficient to take care of himself. I am saddened because living in religion is the most inconvenient and miserable place to be. I’m not just talking about the people living a double life; this is also for those of you who have not chosen to answer the call of discomfort and suffering outside of the boxes of comfort and religion that you’ve created for yourself. If it’s any consolation, I’ve lived both those kinds of lives…and it’s absolutely miserable.
I don’t remember the last time someone called me out in this fashion and I immediately changed, but I do remember plenty of times where someone has called me out and it incurred deep and provoking to the point where it lead to personal reformation.
So maybe that’s what this is-a call out. Throw away your religion, friends.