Do you like the sound of fingers on a chalkboard? Nope, I don’t particularly care for that sound either. There is a phrase I often hear people say that gives me the same cringing feeling on the inside. The comment that has this ability on me is: “He (or she) is very religious.” eeeeeEEEEEEEEE!!! (Visualize fingers on board here)
It’s a very common way for people to describe those who believe in God or people who go to church regularly. And it drives me nuts. Which reminds me of another comment that tends to make me cringe a little….”Well, I believe in God.”
Well, what exactly does that mean? Most people have heard one of the common replies for this one. Even the devil believes in God.
So, what does being religious and believing in God really mean?
The word “religion” has always sounded so sterile and unnatural and heavy and boring and restrictive to me. I guess that is why I dislike it so much. The Pharisees, in biblical times, believed in God and were very religious. They were rule followers and were constantly striving to “earn” their way to heaven. Time and time again we see Jesus rebuking these religious people. Time and time again we see Jesus explaining to the crowds that “religion” is a dead end street.
So what did Jesus teach?
Belief in God and religion were not simply something we carry around with us like a badge. It is not trying really hard to do the morally good thing. Jesus’ short life here on earth (and his Word that we read now) teaches that “religion” is so much more. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
Belief in God and being religious will never achieve the kind of life Jesus intended for us to have. Jesus’ goal was for us to have a relationship with him. His desire is for us to get to know him personally, to walk with him and talk with him. I even think God loves it when we come to him angry or upset or confused…because despite our state of emotion if we come to him willing to listen… He knows that we will find healing, forgiveness and answers. If we make the decision to fully invest in a relationship with Him (even if to us it only seems like a mustard seed of faith) God shows up and far exceeds our expectations!
I love having a relationship with the God who created me. I love knowing that I don’t have to be perfect or “Pharisee-like” to come to him. I love knowing that when I invest time and communication into this relationship- it grows. Religion doesn’t grow. Religion is like a tight fitting outfit that doesn’t stretch. It’s uncomfortable and at some point you just want to take it off and throw it away.
I’ll choose relationship over religion any day!