I was chatting with a non-Christian friend earlier today and he was moaning about having to accompany his family to church.
When I encouraged him to try to see beyond everything else to the message of Easter, he said;
“Organized religion bears subliminal messages of subjugation. They are tools of oppression by men, of women, children and the weak. No one should submit to those teachings…”
I had to agree with him. Except for his spelling of ‘organized’, he’s American, they can’t spell properly! On a more serious note, I had to concede that he was right about organised religion.
Organised religion is an institution to express one’s belief in a higher power. It is an outward and often social articulation of belief in higher powers, often practised in community settings and may include participation in rituals. These are definitions from a couple of dictionaries.
However, I do not subscribe to organised religion. I believe in and have a relationship with God, three in One. I believe The Father made me in His image and likeness and endowed me with all of that He is and represents – love, forgiveness, mercy, kindness etc.
I believe that Jesus, the Son, was crucified not for any wrongdoing on His part but because it was the only way to ensure my salvation. An exchange needed to be made; a life for a life, and He gave His for mine, willingly.
I believe in the Holy Spirit. He is there to comfort, guide and teach me.
Increasingly and unfortunately, Christianity has become a set of rules and regulations, dos and don’ts, rituals and traditions instead of a lifestyle of faith. A lot of Christians are now more concerned with what people can see on the outside as opposed to what is actually on the inside. It has become less about the state of our hearts and more about putting on a good show, less about pleasing God and more about conforming to other people’s expectations.
I’m so thankful that “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7. He is the only One I need to please
It saddens me to agree with my friend but he has a very valid point. Manipulation has become the order of the day in the church; toe the line or fall out of favour.
Jesus does not manipulate. He doesn’t play games or hold his cards close to His chest keeping us guessing about what He wants. He is very clear when He says He loves us unconditionally and accepts us just the way we are. He doesn’t put undue pressure on us to be good. He doesn’t have unrealistic expectations for us. He invites us to come and reason with Him Isaiah 1:18. He offers rest for our weary and burdened souls Matthew 11:29.
He says He loves us with an everlasting love Jeremiah 31:3 and nothing can separate us from that love Romans 8:38 and I believe every word.
It will probably take my friend a whole lot more than this post to be persuaded that true Christianity isn’t organised religion and that’s ok. If someone as erudite and eloquent as Paul was only able to ‘almost’ persuade Agrippa to be a Christian, I have my work cut out for me Acts 26:28 – 29.
However like Paul responded to Agrippa, (and I paraphrase) it is my prayer that whether now or sometime in the future, you too, will become a Christian just as I am.
Happy Easter, everyone.