Religion is a word with many connotations both good and bad. The context of the word ‘religion’ in this post is a negative one; it’s the removal of grace from Christianity.

A religious christian is someone who makes it harder for someone to come to God, or who depends on absolutes (rules and regulations) as opposed to faith.

Religion is man trying to get to God. Christianity is God trying to get to man.

What About Me: Am I Religious?

Often when we talk about “religious christians” we’re gossiping about “the others” out there who have it all wrong. Few of us want to admit that we may be a little religious in our own skin. But what if we are?

I am the first to jump up and admit I can be religious. I occasionally judge people in the secrecy of my own heart. I blame, shame, and point fingers all to easily.

Religion is birthed in the heart of one who doesn’t fully comprehend Gods love for them, and I can sure vouch for that in my own life. It’s taken me years to take baby steps and trust that He really does love me, and now I stand on the edge of a precipice aware of how little I comprehend the depths of his wild love.

“A Saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God” – Thomas Merton

If he loves me so greatly and I am unaware of it, I have the full potential to revert to my old ways and get all religious again; to strive towards his love rather than receive it by faith and through grace.

 

What Are The Symptoms Of Religious Behaviour?

 

1 We Get Identity From Our Authority

Power is given so we can help others. It’s not given so we can gain our identity from it and rely on it to make us feel significant.

As a pastor, with hundreds of people looking to me, I can enjoy the attention and go off on a power trip in my head. The results (which I have unfortunately experienced) is to use people rather than input into their personal growth.

Religion thrives on positions of power and influence. It helps you to feel good about yourself, rather than gain identity from Gods fierce love towards you.

2 We See Sin & Not People

Jesus came to us while we were sinners and saw us, not our sin.

It’s easy to see sin and weakness in others. We focus on weakness in others because it distracts us from the plank of sin in our own eye.

Christianity soon becomes a violent game in which the winners are the ones with the least weaknesses. The losers are cast from Gods presence and deemed unlovable by us and maybe even God. Christianity fast becomes a survival of the fittest mentality.

Along the way we lose sight of the people behind the sin, the souls who are made in Gods image. Yet that’s who God sees. Us.

 3 We Get Over Busy With Spiritual Activity

Often when we encounter God powerfully we’ll chase that encounter like crazy. We go to home group, church, worship nights, Bible studies, watch God TV, listen to Hillsong and despise worldly time wasters such as TV, Non-Christian Music, Shopping for shoes etc.

This reveals that we haven’t yet learnt to let God love us while we’re watching CSI, listening to the Radio and reverting to shopping therapy. We may believe a ‘God encounter’ (as it’s termed) can only happen in a spiritually charged environment (which we then chase from one church to the next).

If we can’t learn to chill out and let God love us in the seemingly mundane, we’ll forever be chasing the wind.

4 We Judge Religious People

Sure religious people can be seriously annoying. Believe me. Yet they too are human souls that just need to learn that God loves them like crazy. Like, a lot. Like over the top kinda love.

I have often judged people as religious simply because they hold different values of beliefs than me. I write people off simply because they attend a different church. Who’s the religious one now?

Thankfully God doesn’t do that, and so nor will I.

5 We Criticise and Complain

The result of religion is to see the negative side of life. This is because we haven’t yet caught the Good News of grace, which, when we do, will overwhelm us with wam-and-fuzzy feel good moments.

Grace changes everything. It uplifts and gives hope. It says your loved for being silly old you, not for who you’re desperately trying to be.


 

If you feel a bit religious, then don’t fret. We probably all are to varying levels. When we understand that we’re loved religion will subside and relationship will begin.

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