“Religion”

I love clouds and sunlight photos. That's how God's love makes my heart feel.
I love clouds and sunlight photos. That’s how God’s love makes my heart feel.

My Trifecta writing challenge post on Friday, about a demon led to a church sanctuary by the poor mapmaking skills of an intern demon, was meant to be a funny tale about a beast outside the “comfort zone.”

I think some read more into it than what I intended, which is fine.  Great, in fact.  I want others to relate to my words.  Even more so, I want my words to promote thinking.  What I don’t want is for my words to be made into something they aren’t and then attributed as my thoughts.  So, more fully than I could explain in a comment reply, I’m going to clarify (I hope) my views on religion.

I believe that Jesus died for our sins.  I go to church, but I’m reserved and stay on the outer fringes of the mass.  I enjoy going there to learn with others who are supposed to be of like beliefs.  I grew up in Baptist churches, but in adulthood, I’ve chosen non-denominational churches.  I don’t want my belief in God to be firmly attached to a sect of Christianity; I want it attached to the Bible.

I don’t like the clique feeling of some congregations.  I don’t like when worthiness is based on whether or not you wear a fancy church dress.  I don’t like the looking down perfectly powdered noses to cast judgment on strangers.  I don’t like the insulation from community, whether from non-believers or those in need of a helping hand.  Not every church is like this, but I’ve seen enough to know they are out there.

God’s intent of believers congregating:  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”—Hebrews 10:24-25

I heard a quote on the radio that expressed what I felt more eloquently than I could.  I found the following on Lysa TerKeurst’s blog:

God doesn’t want us to have a religion. A religion is where we follow rules hoping to do life right, and we serve God out of duty because we think we have to.

God wants us to have a relationship. A relationship where we follow Him. And we serve God not out of duty but out of delight because of the realization of who we are in Him.

Biblical reference:  The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”—Isaiah 29:13

When we live with the purpose of strengthening our relationship with God, love just happens.  We have compassion for those ignored by society.  We follow Jesus’ lead and embrace those who have been scarred by sin. (That’s all of us, by the way.  No matter what Christians want others to believe, none of us are free from sin.)

I stumble.  A lot.  Perfection isn’t even on my horizon.  But I find comfort in knowing that God doesn’t expect it.  He expects me to follow not by sight, but by faith.

That, I’m learning to do, every day.

I want to be amazed by the ordinary.
I want to be amazed by the ordinary.

Thank you for stopping by and taking time to read this.  If you have any thoughts/opinions, please share by leaving a comment.  Have a beautiful Sunday!

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17 thoughts on ““Religion”

  1. Lance October 27, 2013 / 6:19 AM

    I relate to every word. Right now, my wife and I are in between churchs and feel the exact same way. We’re tired of being let down by fellow Christians and pastors but working on our personal relationships with God.

    Thanks for this post. It was excellent.

    • jannatwrites October 27, 2013 / 9:54 PM

      I hope you guys are able to find a church that fits. It can be a tough process to find one. I can understand the disappointment, but I hope it doesn’t stand in the way of strengthening your relationship with God.

  2. deanabo October 27, 2013 / 6:21 AM

    Very well said! I agree with every word.

    • jannatwrites October 27, 2013 / 9:54 PM

      Thanks, Deana. I’m glad you could relate to it 🙂

  3. Carl D'Agostino October 27, 2013 / 7:22 AM

    You may enjoy blog All Along the Watcher Tower -Christian discussion in England. Catholic, Anglican and a few main stream Protestants. I contribute mostly Bible theme cartoons there .Tell Jessica I sent you over. Regards. Also augustin1 . Brian is full of the Holy Spirit.

    • jannatwrites October 27, 2013 / 9:55 PM

      Thanks for the info, Carl! I’m glad you have another outlet for your cartoons, too.

  4. theinnerzone October 27, 2013 / 8:50 AM

    This is a great post, Janna! I have been brought up with Hindu beliefs, surrounded by Muslim, Jewish and Sikh friends and taught in a Catholic school. From very early on, I could see that God was beyond religion. Be it the calmness in a school chapel where I learnt to kneel and pray or the abstract,spiritual atmosphere of a mosque or the loud bells in a Hindu temple. And since then, i have believed to love God and not fear Him; to support his (non) believers and to instill compassion for every form of life. That I believe, is my religion.

    • jannatwrites October 27, 2013 / 9:58 PM

      What a fascinating upbringing, Theinnerzone! Your comment is absolutely beautiful and I like your philosophy. Instead of attacking those with other beliefs, we can live in peace. We may not agree with others’ beliefs, but we can (and should) love them anyway. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your experience!

  5. nrhatch October 27, 2013 / 10:58 AM

    I don’t believe that Jesus died for our sins.

    I believe that J.C. came to share a message of Love and Compassion, and to let us know that the Kingdom of Heaven lies within. Not within him, within us. All of us.

    -> “God dwells within me as me.”

    I also believe that early Church Leaders transformed Christ’s message for their own benefit ~ claiming that he died for our sins so that we would put coins in the church’s coffers. A power play that continues to this day to keep sheep returning to the fold.

    I don’t believe that religion is necessary for us to feel our connection with the spirit that resides in each of us.

    -> “God is the breath within the breath.”

    There ya go . . . that’s my 2 cents. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Janna.

    • Eric Alagan October 27, 2013 / 8:57 PM

      You spoke for me too – thank you 🙂

    • jannatwrites October 27, 2013 / 10:07 PM

      Nancy, I’m glad you stopped by to read and shared your views. I don’t agree with them, but I can appreciate practicing of love and compassion. As for the money, that’s a touchy one. I’ve been to churches where financials are a big deal. I’ve found this more at the big, fancy churches. When I see the pastors dressed in three-piece suits driving brand new luxury cars, and raising money to build an even more elaborate church, I leave. I don’t have a problem with giving, but I want to feel that the money is going to outreach opportunities or helping those in need- not paying for a staff’s luxury items. Pastors shouldn’t live in poverty, but I think modest means are reasonable expectation.

      Again, I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to share your two cents. These discussions can get ugly, but I’m happy that it isn’t the case around here 🙂

  6. Debbie October 27, 2013 / 4:30 PM

    I enjoyed reading your beliefs, Janna. I’m a “cradle Catholic,” baptized when I was just 10 days old, educated in Catholic schools, married in a Catholic church. While I’ve attended other denominational church services (even Jewish synagogue!), I’ve never felt the need to abandon my faith. It’s a part of me, deeply ingrained and reinforced by the Bible, daily devotionals, and spiritual literature I read.

    I do believe God calls us to a personal relationship with Him, that He sent His Son Jesus to atone for the rift between us and Him. I believe that Jesus taught us the perfect way to live: to love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves.

    No, Christians aren’t perfect and yes, that clique-thing exists in even the best congregations. Some folks aren’t welcoming or loving, and I’m sure that makes God most unhappy. However, when we confess our faults, He is gracious to forgive us and accept us back into the fold.

    While “religion” isn’t necessary, “relationship” with God is. But the good thing about organized religion — if it’s the right church — is that other believers can support us on our path, sympathize with us when things go wrong, and help us remain accountable.

    I could write lots more, but I don’t want to overwhelm anybody!

    • jannatwrites October 27, 2013 / 10:23 PM

      I’m glad you have experienced other denominations and feel comfortable in the faith of your upbringing. As I read your comment, it’s similar to what I believe. Building the relationship with God is easier when surrounded by others who are on the same journey and can offer encouragement.

      Thanks so much for taking time to read it and share your own experiences, Debbie 🙂

  7. pattisj October 27, 2013 / 9:22 PM

    Good message, Janna. Glad you shared it.

    • jannatwrites October 27, 2013 / 10:24 PM

      Thanks, Patti. I appreciate you stopping by to read it!

  8. GodGirl October 28, 2013 / 3:32 AM

    Great to hear your views articulated, Janna – and I certainly share them. As you say, church should never be a place reserved only for certain types of people who want to pat themselves on the back for their religiousness, but a home where the broken (all of us) can find grace and love – and grow to be more like Jesus. It’s so sad when churches become a place of judgment and superiority. Wishing you many blessings in your current church home.

    • jannatwrites October 28, 2013 / 11:51 PM

      Thanks for reading, GodGirl. I’m glad you can relate to much of what I wrote. I appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts 🙂

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