Religion: That 8 letter icky word that makes my skin crawl. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent my fair share of time sitting right in the middle of it. I’m certainly not casting out judgment, but I sure am sick of the word and what it represents. If you want to offend me, come up and say “oh, you’re religious, right?”.
Can I tell you something about religion? It’s all fine and dandy until life gets real. Until you face a tough choice, lose a job, lose a child, lose a love, receive a really bad report from your doctor, or the bank account hits a negative number but the bill in your hand says more is due. Religion will be next to you until you have to walk through the doorway of difficulty and then it will shove you in and watch as you stand alone in discomfort.
When our letter of the law has us walking around high and mighty like the new sheriff in town, thumbs in the belt buckle with our chests puffed, that’s religion. Jesus hated religion too. That’s why He knelt down next to the people who smelled, flies swarming around their head and all.
What’s the purpose to this post? I want to speak to that tiny voice that’s been whispering in the back of your mind “there must be more”. Wasn’t a life in Christ supposed to look more fulfilling? Wasn’t this supposed to look more like a friendship?
There is so much I want to share with you about the high points to the Christian walk, about finding who you are, your significance in Christ, your purpose and your calling, but we can’t get on the highway until we have gas in the car. Without first figuring out what this thing looks like to have a real live relationship with Jesus, we’ll just be puttering on the interstate with fumes, and eventually be pushing the car ourselves.
Can I tell you what changed things for me and movedme from religion to relationship? Hard times. Really really hard times. When all I had was a dark closet floor, my tears, pain and desperation, I found relationship.
He wasn’t the polished Jesus from stained glass windows, He was the One who sat down next to me in the dark closet and started whispering words, promises and hope. He didn’t send a formal invitation in an embossed white envelope. He’s the One who found me in the dark and met me where I was in my worst moments.
Where do we get started? How do you begin any relationship?
You talk. You spend time sharing what’s happening in life, being real, taking a couple risks and opening up, finding it’s a safe place, and then you share some more. You say a few words, you quiet down and you listen to the other person speak. True relationship never consists of a one sided conversation.
When was the last time you met your best friend for coffee, spilled all your news, thanked her for her time, and then got up and went about your day without giving her a chance to even say “good morning”? You didn’t. You wouldn’t.
So why do we do that with God? What would happen if we raised our expectations and expected Him to talk back? You know, like a normal relationship.
This week, I want to encourage all of us (myself included) to set aside some time (even 10 minutes) to get alone, say a few words to Him, and then sit quiet and wait for Him to speak back. Don’t be surprised when you hear Him. He’s been waiting for this chance to sit down with you and chat for a while.