35@35 #3: Religion

church.steeple.cross_-300x199TC’s Guidelines and Principles for Life #3: “There’s a big, big difference between living for God and religiosity.” I am grateful that I have had a wide variety of experiences within Christianity. I was raised in a highly structured religion that was built on dogma and catechism.

I have also attended churches on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Churches that were opposed to any sort of outside influence and strongly sought to have a unique experience on a week-by-week basis.

The most valuable understanding I gained from these different environments is to have learned that there are people who are genuinely seeking God in both environments, and there are people who are just playing a game in both environments.

While some people view liturgical denominations (Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian, etc) as being too focused on rules and repetitious religious services, it’s just as easy to become fixated on the elements you may encounter at a non-denominational, evangelical/charismatic church.

Anytime we get our eyes off God and onto the systems we place in our communities of worship, we have missed the point.

Anytime we reduce God to a set of rules or requirements, we have missed the point.

Anytime we’re more worried about our religion than we are about God, we have missed the point.

I have made numerous mistakes in this area of my life. When I was an adolescent, I wanted to throw off the liturgical faith of my childhood because of how constraining I found it. I made the mistake of lumping God in with that religion.

It took me a little time to realize my mistake and to start learning to engage with God directly rather than through a lens that I didn’t like.

After finding myself in a variety of churches and learning institutions that emphasized relationship with God and personal faith over the next decade+, I discovered that I had created, out of these places, a new personal liturgy, which I had put in place of God in my life.

Because religion is easier to manage than God. I can handle a paper tiger much easier than I can handle a real one.

And religion without God is incredibly dangerous. It convinces you that you are accomplishing all that God wants for your life, while robbing you of the chance to actually discover those things.

I have tried to stop putting God into categories or certain roped off areas of my life.

In the end, whether you are religious or not is not the question. Whether or not you are putting God first and seeking His kingdom come and His will be done in your life and through your life is the question.

You can be Methodist, Baptism, Presbyterian, Catholic, Non-Demonicational, Evangelical, or any other branch of Christianity and love Jesus.

That is the right question.