Recently I overheard a statement from a person, who goes to church but doesn’t appear to talk about her beliefs (though not hiding the fact she goes to church). The statement was in reference to her grandmother who is a fierce believer. Both of these women are people that I love (as a friend) and have relatively regular contact with. I am in no way judging the statement, merely using it as a starting point for my thought process.
The statement was along the lines of “my grandmother is very religious”. It was said from a position of what I can only guess was embarrassment at a proud Christian response to something she saw.
I go to church with the grandmother and regard her as one of the prayer warriors of our church. She is the first to call out during the messages on a Sunday morning. I am so encouraged whenever I come near her.
My issue isn’t with a person being embarrassed by her grandmother. My issue is with the usage of the words “very religious”. That phrase draws a picture about the person to those around.
It says :-
She doesn’t drink
She doesn’t swear
She doesn’t lie
She doesn’t cheat
She doesn’t steal
She doesn’t watch movies rated higher than PG
She doesn’t do anything fun
She will judge you if you do the wrong things around you
She hates gay people
She is narrow minded
I could go on.
Unfortunately that list, the things that people assume about christians because of that word “religious” is not accurate. It gives a connotation of someone who lives under a whole bunch of rules, a whole bunch of thou shalt nots. The bible comes across a lists of rules and nice stories, which is in some ways true unless it is read with the author sitting on your shoulder.
Society has taken a glance at the church, plus a lot of history, and made an assumption. I have to be honest, the word makes me cringe. In fact someone recently asked “are you religious”, as I wanted to share with them but couldn’t say yes, all I could answer was “that’s a loaded question. I Love God but I’m not religious. Religion is about rules and tradition. What I have is relationship”.
There are a number of things in the list above that I don’t do but that is not because of any rules, it’s because I don’t want to do them. The best way to describe it is that I have a wife. I could walk around thinking “I must not cheat on her”… That doesn’t work! I would much prefer to (& I do) walk around not noticing other women because I love my wife so much. It isn’t a question in my mind at all. In fact there have been occasions when my wife has pointed out that a woman was flirting with me and I simply haven’t noticed.
The main thing that people tend to ignore is that Jesus died to free us from rules and bring us into the type of relationship where heaps of that stuff just isn’t a question. Also a lot of the list is ridiculous and closed minded (I’ll let you choose which ones they are).
I came across this article today that really pinpoints a religious spirit that rests on many christians and let’s be honest, it’s just not helpful to anyone.