It would seem I am not one of those “religious” people according to a friend of mine.
I didn’t know if it was a good thing or not that I am not seen as religious.
On the one hand, I don’t feel inhibited or shy about sharing what I believe, but apparently I don’t do so enough for others to realize it’s a big part of my life.
I have been trying to figure this out. There was a time that I had all the “Christianese” words, blessings and scripture verses to offer up. But honestly, back then, it was more for the sake of keeping with the Christian community and looking, talking, acting the part despite really having a naive understanding and relationship with Jesus Christ. Somewhere along the line, I realized that all my religion had really limited my view that faith belonged to “wholesome” individuals. Those who didn’t swear, didn’t struggle with addictions, spoke graciously (at least in public), wore modest clothing, etc. Albeit, these are all honourable and characteristics that can display what is in a person’s heart. But how many people have I known, have you known, who have said and done all the right things and lacked the most important thing of all? Genuine love.
This realization shifted my focus from trying to appear devout to simply accepting that nothing I do changes anything about what Christ has done for me. I wanted to associate myself with being free in Christ, not bound by religion’s expectations. Religion was something that had earned some black stripes in the ugly history of the church. In the past, religious people have legitimized holy wars, slavery, witch burnings and so on. There are religious people who say they love Jesus and Jesus loves you and then ignore the hungry panhandler on the street. For all the good that has been done in the name of religion, there has been a substantial amount to devalue the true definition of the word.
We who follow Jesus call ourselves Christians. We come from all walks of life, not just the kind that grew-up in the church with a virtuous family life. There are those who have lived a harsh life on the streets, fighting, stealing, numbing their pain with a needle and those from broken, not so very virtuous families. Old habits die hard – it might be hard to tell that these people having a living faith because their faces show the harshness that the years have inflicted. Or on a tamer note, maybe they just aren’t virtuous people by nature and that is a constant battle with which they grapple. What does religion mean to these people? The societal view of religion seems to only stand as a barrier between the real Jesus and those who don’t know him.
Could I stand to be more of a evangelist? Sure. What I don’t want to do is put a wall up between me and those who don’t fit into my virtuous Christian bubble because I’m “religious.”
Those are some thoughts I have, but it’s a huge topic with a range of perspectives and determining life experiences. In any case, I am thankful to my friend for unintentionally challenging me to think about what how I might not be religious enough. 😉