The word started out good but we have made it into something else.
It's not that the definition of religious is bad. The problem seems to stem from what we have created the word to mean.
Sometimes I think of legalism, rules, rituals, a repeated practice.
Something other than what I hope my personal faith looks like.
I hope my faith is none of the above.
The chance is always there, if I do not stay in communication with The One who created me for worship. The worship of Him, not a man, not a church, a set of rules and certainly not a denomination.
We say Jesus is about love... truth is ... Jesus IS love. He is the definition of love, not just one of His attributes.
Jesus was also a Jew. So if I really want to join the first church, I could join a Messianic Congregation. They are the first chosen people and completed Christians.
That is exciting and I remember as a kid, when Jews For Jesus would come to our church and share their experience of recognizing who Jesus was and is. They also shared the loss many of them experienced from their families. To tell your Jewish parents that you believed in Jesus as anything other than a prophet....that is heresy. Not always, but many times it was met with pain and loss, amidst this joy of knowing the risen, living saviour of the world.
Yet Isaiah 53 talks about our suffering servant. It prophecies of the coming Messiah to the Jewish people, and now to all people. Vs. 3 says," He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hid their faces he was despised, and we esteemed Him not."
In vs 5, " But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed."
Easter is almost here... may I not make it into a religious Holiday. May I see it as an opportunity to recognize that Gods Son, who came in the form of man, with all the human frailties and feelings, came and paid the price for all of the worlds sin. He took our sin on Himself, was brutally beaten and killed in the most painful way known to man.
His Father God had to turn His face away from Him, while He hung on that cross, unable to look at that sin ... of mine, and yours.
I am reminded it was the religious zealots who had Jesus killed. They had a set of ideas and expectations and Jesus did not fit into their plan. He was a rebel, as He taught grace, love, peace and mercy.
Do I show those qualities to people or am I a religious zealot?
People sometimes call me religious. Should I be pleased by this? Are they drawn to it or is it repulsive to them?
My response.... "For me, it's not about a religion, it's about a relationship.
A relationship with the Maker of the heavens and the earth... Kind of makes me giddy sometimes!
He made me and He loves me..... He really does.... and He has plans for me... everyday...
But there is room for you too. It's an open door policy. If you are willing to walk through that door He will welcome you in, with open arms and grace like you have never experienced..... I hope it makes you a little giddy too.
My favorite saying is this.
"If you never know me....
You wont miss anything
If you never know Jesus...
You will miss everything"
So please don't think of me as religious. Truth is, don't think of me at all. That would make me the most happy. None of this is about me. It's about a God who loves and adores you and wants to meet all of your needs.
It's about your relationship with Him. He is alive and He wants to be with you... starting now.
Will you welcome Him in?