Saturday, June 12, 2010

God and Religion: Why am I a Part of this Mess?

June 12, 2010

Recently I’ve been pondering some big questions. In our day we here so many negative things about religion and I myself have been an avid critic. So many people these days claim to love God while thinking that religion is corrupt, man-made, and just shy of worthless. So I decided to force myself to really think of what I thought religion should be. After all, if I’m going to criticize something, I better have an idea of how to better it. Thinking about religion got me thinking about bigger questions like “Why do I follow God?” and “What Would My Life Look Like without God?” And so I decided to dabble down some thoughts and have been asking some friends to the same. I think these are important questions for us all to answer. So take some time and think hard about the following questions. God is too big for us not to have questions.

Why do I follow God?

Many people argue that God is a crutch and I think this is sometimes true. I know sometimes I treat Him as only a crutch. When I can’t stand, He props me up, but when things are good, He can stay in the closet. But if I wanted a God solely for holding me up, I think I would be Jewish. Or maybe Muslim. I’m not saying anything against these religions, I’m just saying I think Christianity is the hardest religion to choose. Some people might scoff at that and say I’m tearing down grace, but I believe in grace 100%. The thing about Christianity is that all our beliefs are based on this crazy, radical, intense God. This Jesus who came to earth and shook things up so much that we are still talking about Him all the time 2000 years later. The problem with this is that our Jesus told us to follow Him, to be His disciples. In other words we are supposed to be crazy, radical, and intense. Jesus loved everyone around Him so passionately and so freely, and He wants me to do the same. That is not easy. I got some pretty hefty expectations to live up to. Yes, if I fail His grace covers me. But, the point isn’t about failing, I have to and I want to try to spread this insane love all over this desperate planet. While many people have turned Christianity into a lame, but somewhat comical show—going to church every week with their nice, pressed clothes; not saying the “F” word out loud in public; and trying to get a word of prayer in before they fall asleep—this is not the Christianity that was meant to be. The Book we Christians claim to follow tells us simply and plainly that religion is about caring for the widows and the orphans—in other words, the people in this world that have no one to help them.

That is one of things I like most about the gospel. It compels us to live better lives. But these lives, while more meaningful, are also much more difficult. This image that we are created in, is that of a crazy God. Sometimes I wish I could just be a selfish bastard and climb high up on the career ladder, make a butt-load of money, attend church occasionally, and feel ok with my life. But, I can’t. I’ve been enticed by the love of my Creator, and have fallen into the most difficult religion.

I follow God, because all my life I’ve felt like He’s followed me. I’ve tried to stray, honestly, I have. But this world is too amazing and people are too complex for me to say there is no God. I see evidence of a God of love everywhere, but primarily in my own heart. Love—genuine, extraordinary, Christian love—is pretty cool. I want it. I want the orphans and the widows, the homeless and the desperate, to feel it. I follow God because like, Peter, I don’t know where else to go. Nothing else works. Sure, I’ve got questions. I’ve got more questions than I really know what to do with. But the thing about God is that I can get so lost in Him that the questions just don’t matter. That doesn’t mean they go away, but when I look up into the starry desert sky all of my big time philosophical questions just don’t even seem worthy of asking. When I gaze at hundreds of different shades of reds, blues, purples, and oranges splashed across the sky as the sun retires for the day, I realize that God is so big I could probably never ask the right questions anyways. When I hike up a mountain and look down to the wondrous landscape below, or kneel down and pick a tiny, but ever so intricate flower, I am humbled. Sure I have big questions and sometimes they torture me. They dance through my head with a speed I cannot keep up with filling me with an uncertainty that I seemingly cannot contain. But I follow God, I wrestle with these questions, waiting for another moment when my thoughts grow still, and I realize for the millionth time that my questions are really not that important.

So it is my goal that I would be able to get so close to God that questions don’t matter. I know the questions will never go away and I think that is a good thing, but I just don’t want them to matter so much. I want to realize that God is huge and He is love. This is why I follow Him. This is why I follow Jesus.

What would my life look like without God?

This is an interesting question and I think it is the most difficult one to answer. As a child I was taught about Jesus. I was catapulted into a church and everything felt right at that age. When I was young I decided that God had called me to be a pastor; to tell other people about His love. Since then I have been like the ocean, coming back to and going away from God as the heavy waves run to and then withdraw from the sea shore. Without God I wonder how different my life would really be. God does provide the basis for my moral compass, and if He was out of my life, I suppose I would probably be nothing short of a man whore and a thief. Now I know I would still have morals, but how closely I would adhere to them, I honestly don’t know.

Without God in my life I would also obviously be pursuing different things career-wise. I’ve always been interested in business and I’ve always been a great liar. I probably would have dreams of being a CEO or something and having a lot of money. But, who knows. I also think that I might be just as misdirected and lost about my future. I’ll have to think about this one a little more

What is my ideal religion?

I want to see a religion that stops at nothing to share the love of Christ. A religion whose first priorities lie in caring for the widows and the orphans. Service—unrelenting, undying, unconditional, complete abandoning, all consuming service. Service that is motivated by love and big enough to define one’s life. I want to see service extend beyond the walls of our own church to the people that make us squirm in our seats. I want to see religion seek out druggies, homosexuals, prostitutes, homeless people, and hungry children; stopping at nothing to show them the love of Christ. I want to see a religion that makes people uncomfortable, but content to the core. I want to see a religion whose beliefs are rooted in the Bible and blossoming with its hope. I want to see a religion that has its eyes focused on the Great Day Jesus returns, but has a heart for the needs here and now, all around us. I want to see a religion where it is ok to be wrong and ok to say, “I don’t know.” More than anything I want to see a religion united—united in passion for this extreme God; united with a love so strong; united with One mission—proving the existence of God without ever saying a word and making His love real in this world.

What do I want from religion?

I want to learn to worship—to worship without restraint. I want freedom—freedom from human expectations and freedom from conflict. I want to feel safe in the arms of my fellow believers and have a place where all worries get left at the door. I want to feel like I am surrounded by multitudes that love me like Christ loves. I want to be able to give the fullness of myself to a cause. I want a religion that will promote healthy families as the basis for a healthy world. I want to be held accountable while never being judged. I want to know that they have God’s best interest in mind when they think of me, and never lead me in a wrong direction. I want a religion so strong that it supports questioning and holds onto doubters. I want a religion that not only waits for God’s children to come, but one that goes out in search for them. I want a religion that stops worrying about numbers and stops rejoicing over conversions. I want a religion that makes disciples—disciples with as much passion as the 12 after Jesus had resurrected. I want a religion that is marked with passion, and known for their love, with all the glory going to God.

What do think religion should be?

I think religion should be a group of people that hold beliefs similar, but not the same, as ours. I think religion’s face is the church, which is the bride of Christ. The same bride that He spent praying would have unity and finish the work He had started. I believe religion is us—those of us who have decided to choose the difficult, straight, and narrow way. It is people, who are overcome with the goodness in this world, reflecting the goodness of God, consumed with love and fighting, not to bring God’s kingdom to this earth, but trying to share His love with others before this war comes to an end.

1 comment:

  1. The Bible is full of errors. Christianity uses "cut and paste" approach by that I mean that they choose to believe in only what they like in the Bible. Christianity has created a civilization of money worshipers and condoners of mass-killing... Too bad! I wish they worshiped the earth or something, we wouldn't be on the road of self-destruction we're on as a civilization... Too bad! Oh well, what can you do...