I haven’t forgotten that I promised to address the word RELIGION and my feelings and thoughts towards it. The problem is, I see it as a very layered issue. There are so many directions to take, and doing so thoroughly and effectively sounds like a really big job that takes more brain power than I currently want to put in that direction.
So, TODAY I am going to talk about the layers I’m thinking about TODAY. Maybe more will come later. Maybe. Probably.
When you hear the word religion, what do YOU think of?
I know some people who work with college students at SDSU and they recently walked around campus and asked students this question. The responses are rather interesting.
The answers are either really blurry, really boxed in to “systems,” or really just pretty negative.
I recently listened to Erwin McManus speaking about the topic of religion. He admitted that he’s really not a big fan. He stated, “When I look historically, I see religion as overwhelmingly a human structure dominantly used to manipulate people based on guilt and shame.” I pretty much agree with that statement.
Religion scares me. It so often and so easily gets out of control and away from God’s heart – having the “appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism” (Col 2:23) but in the end leading to, well, no good – no Jesus, or a lesser Jesus than is true.
I think that humanity, in our fallen state, has a desire to take the easy way. A system of religion is easier to handle, to wrap our minds around as we follow a check list, than to genuinely follow Jesus and grow into Him.
If religion is simply a devotion to a belief in The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6) … sure, I’m SO there. If it is “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” then I’m absolutely down with that (James 1:27). But that’s rarely what anyone REALLY has in mind when they say/hear/think about “religion.”
I want Jesus, not a religion that is ABOUT Jesus. Does that make sense?
FYI I’m also not a fan of the words Christian, Christianity, or Missionary – words that most people would probably say define my life. Finicky? Yes, I suppose.