Today’s Word: ‘Religion’ as in… the birth of The Child means less religion, more Jesus, baby!
I’m sitting with a couple, drinking coffee, planning their wedding. The groom leans forward and says,
“Just so you know, we don’t want any religious stuff in our ceremony.”
I pause, take a sip and reply,
“Okay, tell me about that…”
The young man shares a painfully common story of growing up around “religious people” doing all kinds of “religious activities.” His religious context has been a hyper-structured, heavy-handed, binary environment of right/wrong, black/white, us/them, in/out. Deeply wounded, he’s honestly searching for meaning; deciding which pieces will fit into his religious puzzle.
Finally, he says,
“Do you know what I mean? I just don’t want anything to do with that…”
Again, I pause, take a sip and reply:
“Absolutely. I don’t want anything to do with that either!”
For eons humankind has been searching for meaning by trying to “figure out religion.” We’ve learned about God’s profound promise to fill our lives – not just with meaning, but with meaningful relationships full of grace and truth. To model this, God’s promise became tangible in Jesus:
‘The Word-of-Promise became the Word-made-Flesh and moved into the neighborhood and lived among us full of this grace and truth.’
However, to understand this relationship, we created “a system of thinking and behaving” and called it “Religion.” Over time, this religion took the place of relationship with The-Word-Made-Flesh and the joy of relationships which once brought life, slowly degenerated into rules and regulations which ultimately brought death. Finally, unable to live by the relentless demands of the rules and complicated regulations, the original intent of relationship was lost, and we went back to searching for life’s meaning in the religious spin-cycle:
search for meaning,
glimpse the promise,
trade thriving for striving,
move from relationship to rules.
And after a lot of time in that spin-cycle, what we end up with is “too much religion and not enough Jesus.”
The Good News Advent points to the Good News of Christmas: the birth of the Child brings less religion, more Jesus, baby!