Friday, July 6, 2012
So religion tells us we have to be a certain way, we have to believe certain things, we have to do certain things, and not do certain other things. If we manage to stay relatively steady in those things, or at least manage to look like we are steady, then we're ok with the big guy upstairs, who you may refer to as God, Father God, Our Heavenly Father God, Abba Father God, or Daddy, depending on your religious upbringing and the version of the bible you have (if you prescribe to a different variety of religions, some or most of this will not apply) . Then some day when you're all done striving and walking on eggshells and giving yourself an ulcer because you're not sure if you've done all those things as well as your slightly more pious older brother or your neighbor who never once mowed his lawn on Sunday or swore when he hit his thumb with the hammer, then you'll get to go be with the man upstairs, who you're afraid of and not even sure if he really likes you let alone loves you (this is the somewhat jaded and pessimistic take on religions)
Several options generally happen from this fairly common (with slightly varied) line of thinking:
a) you decide that if this is true, it's too hard, not worth it or maybe even impossible to live up to (all of which are true by the way) so you pack it in, quit religion and anything to do with God, live life and hope (without any real hope) for the best.
b)You turn into a crusty old religious guy so entirely wrapped up in his own pursuit to become Holy that you crush everyone who comes behind you with your over the top self-righteousness (which is no righteousness at all). And still only hope for the best because you've always got this nagging feeling that the time you missed church in 1986 because your tire was flat and you couldn't decide if changing the tire was working on the Sabbath or not might be enough to keep you out.
c) you struggle as best you can, knowing you've missed the boat in a lot of ways, but you keep pulling yourself back up and trying again, experiencing periods of thinking you're ok with God and giving a little extra to the church, or guiltily serving at the soup kitchen on Holidays in the times you think you're not ok with God, because if you do enough good deeds, they're sure to out way the misdeeds, because even though your not sure, it seems like the bible tells you God mostly loves you so you owe him some good works..
Among those three option are probably 17 million variations and degrees of religiousness, as extreme as 'if you ever read anything but the KJ bible you're going to hell', to 'God is Love so I'm sure everyone eventually gets to heaven' (thanks Rob Bell), to 'there is no God' (that's a religion to by the way).
No wonder people are opting for option "a)" more and more, all the work seems over whelming if you're not really sure it's going to pay off anyway. That's because they're sort of right.
The world has been duped yet again into believing that it's up to us. Turns out, if you actually read the bible, God doesn't really leave much of this up to us, because we're going to screw it up anyway. Sorry humanoids, it's in your DNA. What's really up to us is what we're going to believe. Is Jesus the answer or is it Jesus plus my religiousness and hard work.
He gave us the way out of religion, the way out of thinking it's all about what we do (or don't do). Check this out. Romans 8:1-4
Jesus is the payment and power for everything if you believe what he said and did. Not you're religious activities, not your work, not your self-righteousness, not your sacrifice, not even if you almost keep the 10 commandments; just him. No one ever, except Jesus, has kept the old testament law. In fact the Law was designed so that we couldn't keep it but would be pointed to Jesus instead of the Law.
If we keep thinking and believing that it's about us - what we do and don't do - we'll miss the point that it's all about Jesus - what he did and is doing - by being the the one time for all sacrifice and payment for sin. That's what He wants us to believe. He never expected you to keep the Law, stop trying.
In Romans 3:22 Paul says, "we are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are."
Option "a)" is almost right, you should give up, you're free to quit religion. But don't quit Jesus, don't lose hope. He payed for everything, so you don't have to. He fulfilled every Law, so that when you don't, it's not held against you any longer. So you can stop walking on eggshells and stop walking on everyone with over the top religiosity and stop trying to pull your self up by your bootstraps.
Just walk with Jesus.