Yeah, you’re religious.

I worked at Starbucks for almost 5 years and because of that, people think I’m a coffee snob. I’ve had my days of that but I’d like you all to know (or maybe I wouldn’t?) that I just drank coffee (folgers) that was left in the pot from yesterday – just warmed it up in the microwave. No big. I don’t like wasting. I don’t like spending lots of money. There is NOTHING coffee snobbish about any of that. I mean, I still really appreciate good coffee. But it’s no longer a top priority.

BUT there are things about my time working at Starbucks that will ALWAYS be a part of who I am. I learned about people at that place. All kinds. You might be aware that I could tell stories for hours – because you’ve probably listened to them – of crazies, of precious lonely elderly people who just want to talk to someone who cares, of millionaires, of homelessof artists, of pro athletes, of Dallas Daughters and Divas, of sweet moms, of soccer dads, of business owners, of teachers, of authors, of “I’m too cool for school” teenagers, of Christians (the real Jesus following kind and the “I was born in TX so obviously I’m a Christian” type), of Muslims, of Hindus, of atheists, of agnostics, of Baha’i, of Sikhof _________ (ALL kinds of people). If you want to study humanity (especially in the American form) – spend lots of time at sbux and learn to engage with every kind of person there. You’ll never be the same.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about one particular conversation I had in my Starbucks days. I’d like to tell you about it. I was talking to some dude (SD) and something I said made him ask…

SD: So, you’re really religious, huh?
ME: No. I’m not really religious… I don’t like religion. I just love Jesus.
SD: So, you’re a Christian?
ME: Yes. I guess I prefer to say, I follow Jesus… because the word Christian sometimes makes people think more of RELIGION and less of Jesus… But yeah, I’m a follower of Christ… a Christian.
SD: But you don’t think you’re religious?
ME: No. I think that Jesus taught that true Christianity is not about tradition or religion but about loving and knowing Jesus and being a part of His Body.
SD: Do you go to church every Sunday?
ME: Yes.
SD: Do you dress up? 
ME: Kinda. Sometimes. Usually.
SD: Do you participate in traditions there? 
ME: Yes. We do have some traditions. But it’s not ABOUT the traditions.
SD: Uh huh… Yeah, you’re religious… You just don’t know it. 

As I remembered this conversation, I wondered… What if he was more right than I thought he was? What if I keep saying “Jesus taught that true Christianity is not about tradition or religion but about loving and knowing Jesus and being a part of His Body” but then I live like tradition and religion DO matter? What if some of what I’ve clung to is not actually Jesus himself and is distracting me, and people around me, from knowing and loving Jesus?

It’s an important “What if…?” to ask, I think. 


4 thoughts on “Yeah, you’re religious.

  1. do you think Jesus was against religion and tradition? I don’t think he was. He went to the temple, he observed the passover, he “preached” in the synagogue, he seemed to respect the priestly order… what he was against was empty religion, where traditions distracted from God or were from a heart of pride.

  2. Personally I think that Jesus did not really consider religion as important by itself but saw the power of religion as a tool to spread the word in which he was preaching. As an atheist myself I can sometimes be guilty of resenting religion and in the worst of my hours will willingly scorn religion as a form of mindless comforting for those who wish to believe in more than a life/death altercation. Summed up succinctly as “religion is mans reaction to being alive and knowing he has to die.”

    However although religion in itself is not something I can agree with, I can have infinitely more respect for those who wish to follow “Jesus” or indeed any other prophet as by that decision they are showing, usually, that they wish to live their life as honest and full as possible in the time given to them. Thus the predicament you mention of potentially finding religion and tradition as a distraction I feel is a bit of a non-issue as in my opinion it seems that your partaking in religion is only your way to strengthen the bond that you have with Jesus and show your devotion.

    Whether this devotion makes you religious? Yes. yes it does. And there is absolutely no denying that. But you have to look at that as part and parcel as what you believe in. Your only task now is to ensure that you stay devoted to your own personal belief and do not become engrossed too deeply in religion, as it is my opinion that those who put their religion before the living and breathing people around them (whether they be of the same or different religion) are inherently a walking contradiction and often lose sight of the true intention of religions/beliefs. The everyday improvement of yourself and willingness to live for others.

    Surely that is the basis of almost all followings (religious or not) and whether there are “distractions” along the way, if you strive hard enough you will remain true to your path…

    At least that is my opinion anyway :)

  3. i agree with the people above about jesus not resenting religion itself. the simple fact is that religion is just going to happen if you’re consistant. all you really have to do is constantly love Jesus and technicaly you’re religiously loving Jesus. obviously that’s oversimplifying it but i’m sure you get the point. the difference comes down to is that as christians the religion just happens WHILE we’re loving God, but we’re not based around it or overly focused on it.

  4. Yeah, the thing is there’s all kinds of connotation. Like… someone being “religious” is taken to mean that they follow a certain tradition and doesn’t necessarily refer at all to the state of their heart.

    But the dictionary definition:
    1.a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
    a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
    the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

    So… in the literal definition, those who follow Christ are religious. It’s when it becomes like Colossians 2:23 that we have a problem: “promoting self-made religion and asceticism.”

    self-made. Is our “religion” self-made, in which case it is empty? Or is it a devotion to the salvation we find in our Jesus?

    it’s a fine line. The law, after all, wasn’t bad. God gave it as a way for His people to know and follow Him. It was bad when people followed it without knowing Him. So do the “religious externals” in our lives and churches exist because we follow Jesus? or do they exist to make us look and feel good? The things themselves aren’t bad, it’s the reason and purpose for them that makes them good or bad.

    So… I can sit in a massive cathedral and think that it is such an empty show in contrast to the humble church hut in Papua. But really… the people who dreamed up, built, and worship in that Cathedral can be incredible followers of God who minister to people and use that building to show honor to an awesome God who deserves a beautiful building built in his honor. and the people in the hut could just be going to prove their rightness over their neighbors and can sing songs that never affect their lives. The externals don’t show the heart.

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