Thursday, August 26, 2010
5 1/2 Reasons Why I Hate Religion - Everybody Doesn't Like Something
How is it possible to know Jesus and yet exist within an imperfect church, with diverse viewpoints, denominations, worship styles, theologies and well, uncertainty?
To quote Mark Driscoll, who I generally don't care for (Hey, I do like Rob Bell sometimes): "Every Christian struggles, to varying degrees, with different parts of the Bible because they call us to repent of beliefs we formerly held and ways in which we formerly behaved."
I suppose the rub comes when that which we read in the Bible conflicts with our personal belief system. That's when the fireworks start. It is the time when folks from Westboro Baptist Church and Jerimiah Wright (Obama's Former Pastor) make headlines. It's ugly!
I read a handful of blogs on my mandatory lunch break. Some of them poke fun at the fringes of American Christianity and the stupidity within. I admit, I find many of them funny - like the skateboarding priest! Occasionally they are downright nasty about others in the "faith." Sometimes because of past hurts or lack of knowledge. More often, it is folks that have been constrained by previous religious training that was empty and ineffective.
Here is my list of the top offenders when it comes to religion keeping us from the true Jesus.
-1 Theology: That's right, the very thing that should keep us unified, is the very thing that separates us. Type it in as a search term in Amazon, and there are 115,594 results. Somebody has got to be wrong, don't you think?
-2 Legalism: This is a severe form of theology that intellectually trys to make sense of the Bible without running it by God. The "rules" in the Bible are meant to point out our depravity and need for a Savior, not be a score card for holiness. If you believe that no one is perfect, then legalism will simply cause strife. This was the very conflict that Martin Luther struggled with as he made confession over and over each day. Finally, he discovered grace. Without the spirit of God we'll simply have fake fruit in our lives.
-3 Culture Formed Biblical Application: This is a huge. It started the day Jesus was resurrected and went on to the blond haired, blue-eyed Jesus paintings ceturies ago, and now has made its way into mainstream Christianity. Cultural forming happens as soon as we try to make Jesus whatever we need him to be so that he conforms to our world-view. Pagan traditions turned "holy days" for example. Saying things like "Jesus would have been a Republican because he was social conservative." Or, "He would have been a Democrat because He was for social justice." Folks try to twist the Scriptures to meet their agendas.
Jesus lived in a time when there were many cultures combined in Israel. Each one had thier own ideas, beliefs, pagan worship, and faith in gods of every type. He ministered the same things to all of them. Faith, love, hope and the truth of who He was and why He came. He was clear on what sin was, and yet he spent a lot of time with the ones with the worst sins. For the most part the religious people would have nothing to do with Him.
It is NOT about what you do, it is about what He did.
-4 Salvation: Evangelicals are into getting folks saved. They have have it down to a science. Every evangelical church in the world is growing by leaps and bounds. GAK. The truth is that few American churches that believe in salvation are growing. The focus on getting folks in the door so that we can move on to more that need to be in the door is shallow! Often, we leave them on the doorstep of faith.
The biblical plan is discipleship. As one writer said, it's messy and requires time and effort. It is training those that get saved to go deeper and bear fruit, not become seedlings that sprout on rocky soil.
-5 Religious Practice: Why would we simply want to do something becuse every one else is doing it? There are lots of choices in life; you could just play badminton. Maybe the term shuttlecock offends you - I don't know. The point is doing what everyone else is doing is dangerous.
Can we be honest, if we are not connecting with God on a personal level, and just showing up to act like the others, we are religious. It's true. If we don't experience God for ourselves, we might be wasting our time and leading others astray. If you have run dry, you need to find a way to engage with God. How far outside our comfort zone are we willing to go to connect with a living God?
-5 1/2 Sheer Stupidity...
How about you, are you religious?