Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Nonreligious Christianity

At Mark's Living Room last night we were discussing what the word religion actually means. The topic was raised when I started talking about the book I'm reading, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I must say I really like exploring revolutionary approaches to Christianity. Christ called us to follow Him; and Christ was himself a revolutionary. He did not believe in staying within the confines of religion as it had been developed by the holy people of His time.

Don Miller writes: "All the wonder of God happens right above our arithmetic and formula. The more I climb outside my pat answers, the more invigorating the view, the more my heart enters into worship....for so long religion was my false gospel. But there was no magic in it, no wonder, no awe, no kingdom life burning in my chest. And when I get tempted by that same stupid Christian religion, I go back to the beginning of the Gospels and am comforted that there is something more than the emptiness of ritual....By reducing Christian spirituality to formula, we deprive our hearts of wonder." He says, "I don't think there is any better worship than wonder."

I believe in the Bible and in following it and in being fed by it. It is God's Word. But it is alive too. It has been called the Living Bible. As such we need to not try to force our worship or understanding into formulas that are too narrowly defined. How we apply God's Word to our lives can be fresh for who we are today and the times we are living in. We need to read the Bible as the Bible speaks to us. Too often we are influenced by fixed views that have been around too long and are not valid for our times.

The important thing is: What did Christ teach us? He said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

The Bible says, "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." (Romans 7:6)

Today - as it was in Biblical times - we need to worship and serve in the Spirit and not according to religion.

That's just the way I'm thinking about it today. What do you think?


Nancie said...


I too believe that Christianity is a relationship with a living and true God Who loves us and gave His Son to die on the cross for us. And He has given us His Words, the Bible to guide and direct us to know Him and live for Him. It is not a religion of do's and don't but a very real and personal relationship with a living God.

I believe too that we need to worship God in Spirit and in Truths. Thank God that He is with us always and we can rest in His love and mercies.

Thanks for all your prayers and encouragements. Take care. May God bless you abundantly!

With love and prayers,

marja said...

You're right, Nancie, it's all about relationship and not a religion of do's and don'ts. The basic tenets of our faith always remain the same, though the world may change.

P.J. said...

First of all, Amen, Sister!!

I find that as I am "growing up" that a lot of the things I believe is based on what I was taught as a child. Now, that is not wrong. I grew up Pentecostal, and I think the 'religion' spoke a lot. We did much out of tradition, and because it was 'the thing to do if you are a Christian.' I've been uncovering that SO MANY of the things I do and believe are done and believed without really knowing why. "Because that's the way we did it when I was young" is my best response to some of my husbands "why"s about things. Eg. "Why do we open gifts Christmasn morning?" or "Why can't you wear jeans to church?" (I've gotten over that one!) and so on.

Anyway, my point is that I've been figuring out, for myself, my Christianity. And, how can I do that except by revelations from God - either through His Word, preaching, music, friends, etc?? I am tired of living the Pentecostal 'religion' and would rather just be just be Pentecostal at heart, and Christian, above all. So, I've been learning a lot FOR MYSELF. And, that is what keeps this journey interesting and fulfilling.

And, to this day, it amazes me how 2 people can read the same scripture and get 2 totally different things out of it. That proves to me that "His Word is Alive" (That's a great song by Casting Crowns, by the way!!)

marja said...

PJ: You're thinking and feeling the same way I do about these things. As long as we keep our relationship with God strong and follow Jesus, we'll be on the right track.