The Question I Would Answer Differently Today

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I read this great article by Seth Barnes this morning called Burned Out on Religion? On Sunday, I heard the same verse quoted by the pastor at the end of the message. I’ve always loved the Message translation of Matthew 11:28-30.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

After reading Seth’s post this morning, I thought about that question. Are you religious? The most recent time someone asked me that question was about a month ago by the man who came to install our direct TV. He was a friendly man who spent all afternoon at my house. All afternoon. Installing and talking. Talking and installing. He was a helpful, chatty man. If there was a picture next to the word extrovert in the dictionary, I am certain it would be his picture. Did I mention he had the gift of gab? 🙂

We were going on hour number three of the marathon installation process when he asked me the question.

“Are you religious?”

His question wasn’t asked as the launching board for a deep theological discussion. It was his lead in to a discussion about the “religious” channels I would now have access to. Yet, whenever I get asked that question, I cringe. I’ll be blunt here. I hate the word religious. I hate it.

Have you ever wanted a do over response after someone asked you a question you were not prepared for?

I was burned out on the installation process.  I was burned out on the moving into the new house process.  I was a drooping candle.

When this man asked me this question, my first response was to throw up a little on the inside. Then, in the split second before my actual response…I thought about saying “No, I’m not religious.” But how could I say no without an explanation?  And, I was tired. Introverts (who have extrovert tendencies) tend to get tired after three hours with true genuine extroverts. So, I stammered for the words, “Umm…I…suppose?”  It came out sounding more like a question rather than an answer.

“Well, Ma’am, these channels are all your religious channels. You’ve got a ton of ’em.”

Yep, I want a do over.

I wish I had been prepared. Because here’s the answer that would have made me less nauseous.

“Are you religious?”

“Nah…(insert casual hand swing pushing away the question) but I DO kinda of have this thing for Jesus.”

The man wasn’t looking for a deep conversation about the difference between religion and relationship. He was simply explaining my channels. But, in hindsight, I could have given him something more than just the typical response he hears all the time.

What about you?  Ever opted for the easier “safe” answer rather than taking the time be intentional and making a moment count?

16 thoughts on “The Question I Would Answer Differently Today

  1. Debra

    I love your answer, “I kinda have a thing for Jesus” what an awesome answer!!!!! I love it. One of my favorite books is called ” Falling in love with Jesus.” It’s a beautiful story of getting to know Jesus. But the question “Are you religious” can take on so many things. And the word religion can mean so many things as well.

    But to answer the question.Yes/ No, …. on the days its no I ask forgiveness…… and am forgiven because I am human.

    Deb

    Reply
    1. Eileen Post author

      Interesting answer, Debra. I guess it comes down to what are perception of “religious” is. When I think religious I often think of the Pharisees…all rules and no relationship.

      Reply
  2. Kristin

    When I am asked that question, I respond with “I do not like to be called religious, I am a Christian”. If more is wanted, I explain that being religious can pertain to anything. . .even a cult. . .even following Satan himself. I am a Christ follower. I think that sounds much better and is much more true than being religious:)

    Don’t beat yourself up. We all wish at one time or another that we answered differently about different tings. And I have discovered over the years, even if our hearts are in the right place but our mouth messes up, the Lord can still use it. Isn’t that great?! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Eileen Post author

      Thanks, Kristin. I some times have a hard time with using Christian too. It’s accurate and yet I guess because it’s tossed out there and society tends to use it to describe people who simply believe in God. But, I do like “Christ follower” 🙂

      Reply
  3. Chris Monahan

    I guess I am religious in that I do (try to) follow the rules (at least the big 10).
    I don’t refer to myself as Christian. Too many use that word and the meaning is too vague.
    I call myself a disciple of Jesus (last week at one place of worship where they ask folks to write their name on stickers and wear them, I wrote Disciple and am likely to do it again).
    I simply make my best effort to be like Him: love, give, serve, affirm. I fall well short on a regular basis, but I have a good role model and a worthy goal.
    Blessings.

    Reply
    1. Eileen Post author

      I like disciple! I guess the issue with rules is that if they become a burden or a measuring stick then something is not right. “Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Now THAT’s the “religion” I desire to cling to. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Laurie Wallin

    Oh I love that… ” Kinda have a thing for Jesus” answer! That says it so much better. Now you’ve got me thinking of different ways I could answer that too. Maybe something like “my religion is trusting God even when life is crazy.” I think as a church it would be really helpful to people if we could clearly, briefly and relevantly explain what following Him is really about. might make less people want to run for the hills when they think of church!

    Reply
  5. Kim

    I have a habit of taking the safe route, especially when it pertains to potentially controversial topics such as religion. I don’t consider myself religious nor would I say I have a relationship with Jesus. I’d refer to myself as spiritual. It works and doesn’t put any unnecessary pressure on me to decide where my beliefs lie.

    Reply
    1. Eileen Post author

      Thank you for your comment, Kim. It’s thought provoking. Would you say that your desire to not put unnecessary pressure on yourself to decide is one way of taking the “safe” route? I know, for me personally, indecision or dragging my feet on things is definitely a form of playing it safe. Making decisions will often force us out of our comfort zones.

      Reply
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