By: Ange King
I have friends who still describe me as ‘religious.’
It’s their way of describing someone who is intense about their faith, intense enough to go to church, and pray, and give to charity.
Honestly? I find it a bit offensive.
Mainly, because it is one of my main goals in life to not be religious. I think religiosity is killing the church and I think Jesus had a lot to say about it when he was hanging out with the disciples—and none of it was good.
And I think ‘religion’ is a cop-out. It’s the easy way. It’s the “I-don’t-have-to-figure-out-how-to-be-in-a-relationship-with-an-unpredictable,-mysterious-person-because-I’ve-cleverly-scheduled-all-of-my-Christian-activities” way. I think ‘religiosity’ is something to radically vanquish in our hearts, not a way of life to be praised.
And it’s a personal struggle. God has put his finger on this issue multiple times for me. There have been seasons in my life when my diligent hourly ‘Time With God’ each morning was revealed to be yet another task I could cross off my list for the day and pat myself on the back over ‘being a good Christian.’ Or times when I was using my service at church as an avoidance tactic to coming face to face with God.
But as we all know, Jesus is not a religion, he is a person. And therefore life after an encounter with him and a surrender to his Lordship means being in a relationship. Not a religion.
And navigating relationships is difficult. They mean time together. They mean asking questions, listening to the answers, finding out what the other person thinks or likes, and being honest about how you tick. They mean receiving love and showing love in return.
There’s a new film coming out in March called Camp Manna. It’s a light-hearted dig at Christian culture—the kind of culture where we forgot the reason why we do certain things but we do them anyway because we vaguely remember that “it’s what you’re supposed to do.” It’s religion.
And the film has the potential to be offensive. Because often, questioning the outward cladding of what we do as believers—well, it can be felt as an attack on identity. That is, if the person blindly following the norms of the culture lacks the inner foundation of a walk with Jesus—which is where identity is really found.
But Camp Manna isn’t offensive—it’s just ridiculously funny. Because religion so often is ridiculous and funny when seen from the outside. Jesus, on the other hand, is transforming. Religion is not. Religion makes us judgy and needy and self-righteous and intolerant. Something aptly displayed in some of the crazy characters of this film.
But time with Jesus—either explosive personal encounters or repeated time in his presence —preferably both—makes us like him. He is not scary. Discovering the soul-shaking love he has for us satiates and transforms and wrecks us like nothing else ever will.
My hope is that one day my friends will start to notice the difference between being ‘religious,’ and the glow that comes with being deeply in love with a ridiculously happy God. And that there would be a little more laughing at ourselves in general, and a little more honesty about all the nutty flaws we have, and the nutty things we try as we learn to walk with God. Because he is so much bigger, and soooo much better than religion.
Article supplied with thanks to Movies Change People.
About the author: Ange writes for Movies Change People.