Why it's not about being religious
Over the past few weeks I've been called "religious" a couple of times. Which I guess makes sense given the things I write about and share on social media, but it's not exactly something I aspire to be. Especially in this day and age when I don't think people see religion as such a popular thing. Because to me, when people say that, they are insinuating that I do certain things that make me religious.
For example... to me, when someone calls me religious they are insinuating that...
I go to Church regularly.
I don't drink.
I sin less.
I judge others.
I don't go to bars.
I read my Bible 24/7.
or that I don't watch reality TV.
And quite frankly, calling me religious is just totally missing the mark.
The thing about the God and Jesus I know is that He wasn't about us doing anything to deserve to be called His children or His brothers and sisters. The even crazier thing about the Jesus I know is that he condemned the religious people of His time! When Jesus walked the earth He rebuked the Pharisees daily to show them and to show us that being religious was not going to get us anywhere.
No human is capable of following so many rules perfectly enough so that we can somehow achieve the reward of living forever in heaven with God. No one can do it. We're all human. We're all broken (Rom. 3:23).
The definition of religious is this: believing in a god or a group of gods and following the rules of a religion.
I'm down with the first part, but my God isn't as concerned about the second.
I don't want to be religious.
The Pharisees were religious.
The young people joining the IS are striving to be more religious.
Many sources would say that Hitler, claimed to be religious.
For goodness sakes even Presidential candidates now claim to be religious! Just so they can get the vote of the "religious!"
But it's just not about that. Being religious is just one more thing we humans try and convince ourselves that we should do to be a better person.
And we are missing the mark yet again.
The truth is,
I didn't go to Church last Sunday or this Tuesday, but I do try my best to go regularly, not because it is what is going to get me to heaven, but because it is where I go to learn more about my savior.
I do drink. But I strive for moderation and to only drink around those who will encourage me in that. And not because I'm religious!! Not getting drunk isn't about being being sober to earn God's favor. The reason to not get drunk is because you know God loves you, and he teaches you not to. Or if you're like me... you've suffered the consequences and embarrassment that drunkenness can bring.
I don't sin less. Every day I must ask for forgiveness for the many times a day that I do sin. But every day I strive to do better than the one before.
I do judge others. Not because Jesus did but because I am flawed and it is my human nature. It is easier for me judge others than myself. I'm working on it. It is not my job to condemn. But it is my job to encourage the people I love away from sin and things that could be self-destructive to them.
I do go to bars. Give me any sporting event that is not on the major networks (aka the only channels I get) and I will met you at the coolest sports bar in town. Or breweries. I'm a fan. But I will avoid the ones that I feel could lead me away from how God intended for me to live. Not because I'm religious!! But because I know my weaknesses. I know, that if I go to a bar or party or whatever it may be where everyone is shotgunning beers and seeing who can win the most games of flip cup and what not that I am just as liable to join in their "fun". (I'd like to say - not because I'm weak!! But because I'm competitive!... but it doesn't quite work like that).
I don't read my Bible 24/7. I strive to read it at least once daily. But that is not because reading the Bible is what will get me into heaven, I strive to read the Bible because that is the main source of communication I have with God. It is my main source of guidance, of encouragement. It is the main reminder I have of how much He loves us even despite the darkness of this world.
I did watch most of the Bachelor this year. But I do try to avoid shows that feed my heart and mind false ideas - like the fact that it's okay to date 30+ women and sleep with 3 in the same week to find your wife. Clearly I could do better on my choices here as well. I'd highly recommend Fixer Upper!!
My point is, the reason I do or try to do or don't do certain things isn't to earn favor with a God or religion. The reason I do or don't do certain things is because I know what my God has done for me. And I trust that any teachings He gave while on this earth - that people thought were important enough to WRITE DOWN - will not be teachings that will keep me from living life to the fullest.
Jesus came to this earth so that He could teach us the way. He suffered. He was tortured. And He died an innocent man, for us. And He, because He was God, defeated death and rose again so that we, in our imperfectness, may have a way to be reunited and rebuild our relationship with our perfect God.
Following Jesus isn't about being religious. It's about being loved. Responding to that love. And sharing that love with everyone you know.
Six years ago today I watched one of my very best friends lose her father and best friend - someone whom I also loved very much. And during the ceremony I remember the speaker saying, "Though he wasn't a very religious man, he was very spiritual."
Ever since, I've always admired that sentiment.
May we not be religious people, but instead people of the Holy Spirit, known by and for our love.
My hope today is that you will all go forth today striving to be known by His love and not by how many rules yo follow. And if you're not a believer, I hope these words resonated with you in such a way that you would continue to ask more.
God loves you.
If you are interested in learning more, this is a book I read back when I really didn't want to believe in Christianity or the whole idea of religion or living a certain way either. I really recommend it. The video is also awesome.