Amanda, I think it is fine that you are into religion and things, but I think there is a such thing as being too into it.
Someone close to me once said this. I don’t remember what I said at the time, but I thought that in light of Easter, I would share a little bit about why I am so “religious”.
I think I would start by saying that contrary to what the above person thought, it’s not really religion that I am into. In fact, I don’t really like religion much. Some of you are thinking: This from a girl who quotes Bible verses on her Facebook page on a regular basis??? Yes. Let me explain.
Religion is about rules; it holds up a standard of morality that we are supposed to live up to. When we live up to this morality, we are good. When we don’t, we are bad. This kind of thinking leads to one of two places. Either we become self-righteous and look down on other people because they are not as good as us, or we despair, because we fail to live up to the standard and end up feeling terrible about ourselves.
Basically, religion is about human beings earning their way to some kind of eternal reward. The way we earn it is by good works. It’s a very heavy burden to carry.
So, if you were to ask me if I am religious, I think I would honestly say no. At least, not if that is what you mean by religion.
OK, so if you are not into religion, what exactly are you into?
The answer is simple: Jesus. And Jesus and religion are not the same. In fact, Jesus didn’t get along with religious people very well. It was the religious people of the time who sought to kill him. Most of Jesus’ followers were people who the religious people would not associate with. They were outcasts and criminals.
My life changed when I found out that I did not need to earn my way to God. In fact, I can’t earn my way to God. All of my efforts would be futile. The gap between me and the divine is far too big. The life altering truth is this:We could never reach him, and so he reached out to us. He came down to our level. This changes everything.
God didn’t come for good people; in fact, the Bible says that there are no good people because all of us fall short of God’s perfect standard (Romans 3:10-18). God is perfect, and we are not. To be imperfect means we are flawed. Ultimately it means we love other things more than God. Our priorities are all messed up. This is what the Bible means by the word “sinful”. Because we are sinful, we do sinful things. This is what separates us from God, making it impossible for us to enter his presence. So, God did two things: first, instead of telling us we need to earn our way, He sent Jesus who lived up to God’s perfect standard on our behalf. He did it for us! Secondly, Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross. He lovingly endured the punishment for our sin so that we would not have to.
Easter Sunday is coming up. It is the day that Christians gather together and celebrate the fact that on the third day, Jesus walked out of the tomb alive. He lives! The Good News is that if we trust in his perfect life and sacrifice, rather than our own efforts, we too will live. So, rather than carrying the burden of trying to earn God’s favour, I can live each day knowing that Jesus earned it. And through Jesus, I am free to come into God’s presence. I can approach him daily, moment by moment, and know that he listens.
It is not about religion. It’s about a relationship with God. It’s about love. God displayed amazing love when he sent his Son for us. That love, when you really get it, changes you forever. It is what changed me, and continues to transform my life. A desire to earn God’s love could never motivate me; it would only crush me.
I don’t remember what I said that day when my friend told me I was too into religion. But what I would say today is that I am not into religion, I am into Jesus. And there is no such thing as being too into Jesus, because if he is who he said he was, being half hearted about him simply isn’t an option.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
– 1 John 4:10
Food for thought/resources:
If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then Christianity is a lie. Here are a couple articles that talk about the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus:
Here is Bono, from the band, U2, talking about what he thinks about Jesus:
And finally, here is a blog post by one of my favourite authors, Ann Voskamp. She is writing from the point of view of Mary, Jesus’ mother: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/04/when-youre-tired-of-feeling-torn-why-he-came-holy-week-good-friday/