In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Religion is a Headache

As much as I'd love to claim this title as my own, I can't. It's a chapter heading from a provocative book I'm reading entitled The Naked Gospel.

As soon as I read that title my mind went to a favorite scripture found in Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus asks:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Just before Jesus made this statement He had been teaching and preaching to the people in the villages. He'd commented on how many of them were like spoiled children who are never happy with any situation, and He'd rebuked some for their indifference. Then He prayed and began to speak to those people who were sincerely looking for God and He uttered those words above.

When I read these words of Jesus I find myself asking these questions: What is it about religion that is bad? What about religion would cause burn out? How is getting away with Jesus different than religion?

I'll tell you my thoughts on these questions and then I'd be interested to hear yours.

The common usage of the word religion implies rules. Rules to which we must scrupulously conform, a set of standards of what we should and should not do. It's about how we're going to get to, or be right with, God.

Jesus claimed in John 14:6 that He was the only way to get to God. Then we see in Romans 8:1-23 that the law from the Old Testament shows us the perfect requirements, standards, rules that we are not able to keep but that Jesus was able to do what the law could not - Jesus is able to bring us into relationship with God. Ephesians 2:4-10 shows us that God will reach out to us in grace and give us the ability to have faith in Jesus so that we can come into relationship with Himself. So what Jesus is offering us, is different than following rules or standards; He's offering us to be in relationship with Himself and empower us to live a better way of life by living through us.

I know that trying to measure up, to be good enough, is exhausting. It's like being a hamster on an exercise wheel because I can never get anywhere; my best, and everyone else's, is always imperfect. But to come into a relationship with Jesus who loves me just as I am, who allows me to be myself, who asks me in John 15:3-5 to spend time with Him and He will produce good things through my life - this is an entirely different experience.

Has religion ever been a headache for you? Have you ever experienced being burned out from trying to live up to religious standards? How has getting away with Jesus been different for you than religion?

22 comments:

Ely Biado said...

"It's like being a hamster on an exercise wheel because I can never get anywhere." It's something like that.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.

The big mistakes of some quarters that being godly is an earthly gain. The reason why they are frustrated.

2 Cor 4:18 while we don't look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

What is 50 - 70 or more years of living on earth compared to the promise of everlasting life in heaven.

1 Cor 2:9 But as it is written, "Things which an eye didn't see, and an ear didn't hear, which didn't enter into the heart of man, these God has prepared for those who love him."

GCT said...

Why didn't you link Matthew 11:28-30? You linked all the other verses. Could it be that this verse doesn't say what you claim it says?

Well, it doesn't. Jesus makes no mention of religion in the verse.

And, while we are at it, religion, you has it. Whether you think you are in a personal relationship with a god or not, you are practicing a religion. All this Xian anti-religion stuff is a bunch of nonsense. Relabeling something doesn't change the fundamental aspects of it that merited the correct usage of the label in the first place.

RCUBEs said...

So liberating to know that it's not about religion but having a personal relationship with God. "Know the truth and it will set you free" -John 8:32.

I love "The Message" version because it's plain to understand, sister Tracy. God bless.

Michelle said...

Has religion ever been a headache for you? Have you ever experienced being burned out from trying to live up to religious standards? How has getting away with Jesus been different for you than religion?

"Religion" is a headache to me! My headache came when I began studying the doctrines of election after living my younger days in a Southern Baptist church. I've never been very "legalistic" so religious standards have never been a stresser for me. The search for Truth, however, well...that's another story.

Although Christianity is considered a "religion." I see the difference meant between religion and Christianity. The purpose of Christ's sacrifice for us is to free us from the bondage of religion.

Tracy, I would be really interested on your take on The Message and why you use it? I see a lot of deviation from what are considered the original text. I understand it's "comprehension and being able to relate" but what I've seen of it in the past it can really take away from the original meaning of the text. Just curious about your perspective.

Deborah Ann said...

Religion...what a sticky subject, eh?

I think religion is 'formed' (for lack of a better word) when we try to have a relationship with God. Our puny little pea-brains are trying to figure Him out. But the danger in taking on this ritualistic behavior is we then form our own image of God.

Did you ever see the 'Jesus' movie? I think that was the name of it. The Jesus in this movie was, um...real. He laughed, He cried, He danced. Some people said the movie was sacreligious. "Why, God would never act like this!" they sputtered.

That's why I love "The Message." It allows us to see God in a different light, and who's to say it's the wrong light?

We all have the same Holy Spirit inside us. And the only way to be sure we don't fall into the traps of religion, is to listen to Him. He is our teacher. He will show us the way.

So our opinions are just that...opinions. Unless we test the spirits, and the SPIRIT. Only then can we outgrow our 'religious' attitudes.

Grace and peace!

GCT said...

It appears that all here would like to do abuse to the word "religion" in a spirit of what? I don't understand why you all want to distance yourselves from being in a religion, which is what you are all in. Why can the Muslim not also claim that Islam is not a religion, but a relationship with Allah? Or the Hindu claim that their's is not a religion, but a relationship with their gods? By divorcing the meaning of the word from the word, you make the word meaningless as a descriptor for anything. We may as well toss out the word and not use it for anything, because it loses all meaning.

Michelle said...

For lack of a better term, allow me to play devil's advocate for a moment...Deborah, don't you contradict yourself when you say "But the danger in taking on this ritualistic behavior is we then form our own image of God." and That's why I love "The Message." It allows us to see God in a different light, and who's to say it's the wrong light?

Isn't the thing you're saying with the Message the same thing as forming an image of God that is not true to God?

GCT- you raise a good point. That's why I stated Christianity is a religion. I believe what Tracy may have been referring to as religion is the view of religion as legalism. And the point you raised goes across the lines of vocabulary in Christianity. People want to change the meaning of words to fit God into their box. For example, "election." The majority of Christians do not believe God chose certain people as His own; yet, that is clearly what the word means in scripture as well as the secular world.

Gem said...

GCT,

Here's the missing link for you:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2011:28&version=MSG

Tracy, I hear ya! :)

Tracy said...

GCT, the only reason I didn't link the Matthew passage is because I wrote it out (I linked the other ones simply because I didn't write them out); but I changed and linked it.

I definitely agree that by the Webster type definition of religion Christianity is a religion. That's why I stated "common usage of the word". My life experience has been that religion very typically is thought to equate with rules to get one into right standing with God.

Tracy said...

Michelle, I in no way claim to be a Greek or Hebrew scholar. My father was a Hebrew scholar so I'm more familiar with that, but even there I'm weak. I can utilize lexicons. The Message is a paraphrase, not a direct translation. Most frequently when studying I'll use: KJV, NIV, NLT & The Message. My understanding of the scholarship of all these documents is that they are good and I like to read it in different wordings because it helps me think more deeply. I often find the Message to be a fresh way of looking at things for me. I found the Matthew passage here to not say anything different from the KJV or NIV but to say it in a fresh manner that captivated my weary heart. Maybe it's as simple as the fact that I've memorized so much in those 2 versions that it's easy for me to just recite them without really pondering the meaning and the Message breaks that habit.

photogr said...

Tracy:

"Religion is a headache" Yes it is.

I prefer just to be a follower of Jesus or a Jesus freak as some lable it. However I guess I can be also labled religious being I worship a divine diety.

As far as the word Religion, It must be some thing the IRS labled to denote a tax exempt entity.

GCT said...

Gem,
I have yet to see the link you posted, but will get to it when I have time.

Michelle,
Thank you.

Tracy,
Thank you for linking to Matthew, but I still think you are inserting your own biases where they don't exist in the text. Nowhere does Jesus talk about religion, nor is it indicated in the surrounding text.

Also, common usage of the word "religion" is the dictionary usage.

Lastly, the KJV is known to be highly inaccurate. You may want to rethink your statement that, "the scholarship of all these documents is that they are good." Scholars are very much in agreement that the KJV is not a good copy, coming from inaccurate manuscripts.

photogr,
"As far as the word Religion, It must be some thing the IRS labled to denote a tax exempt entity."

That's pretty funny, but on a more serious note, if you all want to deny the "religion" label and start having your churches pay their fair share of taxes, well then I'll retract my complaint and let you guys pay.

JD Curtis said...

Of course GCT realizes that under the definition of "religion" in the Merriam Webster dictionary, atheism easily qualifies as a functional religion. That and the US Courts have already ruled that it's a religion as well.

Deborah Ann said...

Michelle, actually those are two different points. The namebrand Bible we use is not a 'religion.' Nor does reading the Bible cause us to form a religion (though some would argue that point), neither can the namebrand Bible be accused of causing us to make our own image of God. God reveals Himself through His Word by His Holy Spirit. And that is the standard by which we should form an image of God, not by the particular translation we are reading.

And far more disturbing, we make our own image of God when we debate each other on the subject of religion. Does God really like it when we use the gospel as a battering ram? We all fall short in our understanding. We all have differences. You might be interested to read an article I wrote on this:

http://heavenlyhumor.blogspot.com/2009/11/good-for-you.html

Blessings!

GCT said...

JD,
You may want to give that false canard a rest. If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color and not collecting stamps is a hobby. Give it up already. You've already been shown why your legal argument fails as well on your own blog by Reynold. And, of course, if you actually read the definition, you'd notice that atheism doesn't fall into the category of religion, as I've also previously pointed out to you.

JD Curtis said...

If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color and not collecting stamps is a hobby

Atheism is the opposite of theism, not religion.

if you actually read the definition, you'd notice that atheism doesn't fall into the category of religion

From The Merriam Webster Dictionary

religion: noun, a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.

Anyone who is even a casual reader of this blog wouldnt fall for the explanation that your belief in a particular, universal negative being true, (i.e. God does not exist) isnt held by you with both ardor and a very certain faith that it's true. Puh-leeez

For those of you wondering about the American Court system's thought on the matter...

Tracy said...

Deborah - I went over and read your post. I appreciate the point you're making there. To my way of thinking, we should major on the majors & just acknowledge our differences on the other stuff. Majors would be anything that brings us into initial relationship with Christ - His divinity, His sacrificial death, the fact that He gives us faith to believe in Him, His righteousness being imputed unto us so we don't have to earn our way into relationship or to spend eternity in heaven with Him. Once these are established each individual can then study scripture on his/her own and let the Holy Spirit guide him/her. I think sometimes myself or others can get too involved in the minor differences and make them too big of a deal. I also lean toward thinking that all the major translations are fine for the average Christians study needs; the main issue is beginning to put into practice what one is learning in the Word. (I don't mean to under estimate the value of doctrine here but to say that sometimes it's too easy to get caught up in discussions that are not fruitful)

GCT said...

JD,
"Anyone who is even a casual reader of this blog wouldnt fall for the explanation that your belief in a particular, universal negative being true, (i.e. God does not exist) isnt held by you with both ardor and a very certain faith that it's true. Puh-leeez"

Thank you for telling me what I believe and what I don't. I don't know how I would know what to believe and not believe without you telling me. I had no idea that rejecting your faith position meant that I'd adopted a faith position of my own....I had no idea because it's simply not true. And, that's why your lame attempts here are abject failures. Like I said, if atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color and not-collecting stamps is a hobby (and your quip about opposites does nothing to change that). Stop trying to abuse the language in order to score some cheap rhetorical points.

JD Curtis said...

I had no idea that rejecting your faith position meant that I'd adopted a faith position of my own

Then you can prove for a fact that God does not exist? Or do you just take it on......faith that He doesnt?

GCT said...

JD,
"Then you can prove for a fact that God does not exist? Or do you just take it on......faith that He doesnt?"

Once again you drag the discussion away from the OP so that people will forget the original point of Xians trying to distance themselves from the word "religion" for no good reason.

You're also having to rely on bad argumentation to do it. Nowhere have I said that I can prove that god does not exist, nor do I have to. Theists are putting forth a positive argument that god exists. I do not accept those arguments as compelling and do not see them as having any merit due to the abject and complete lack of evidence for the existence of said gods. Hence, I do not believe that said gods exist. This is not a faith position. On the contrary, it is the rejection of faith. Since it is not a faith position, atheism is not a religion per the definition you supplied. Sorry to have to burst your bubble, yet again, but you've been hoist by your own petard once again.

JD Curtis said...

You're also having to rely on bad argumentation to do it

Ha ha ha. Pot. Kettle. Black and all that. There was once a GCT on this blog who stated...

A.That the United States had slaves through military conquest and later on the same thread, argued....

B. That the United States didnt have a standing army at the time never once realizing that he just destroyed his (or her?) own argument.

Stick around kid. It gets interesting around these parts.

GCT said...

JD,
If the best you can do is misquote me on a topic that is not related in an effort at ad hominem through a red herring, then you may as well pack it in.

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