Only how to talk about "religion" without fighting? You see, "religion" is supposed to be about finding God. Which is why I guess I don't care too much for "religion." I mean, if there is a God so amazing, so unfathomable, so other-worldly...how on earth are we little humans supposed to think we could ever conceive of such a being...yet alone devise a way to find this Being.
But, I do believe in God. And, I do believe in the possibility of knowing God. And, at the same time, I reject "religion." I think, religion over the centuries has done a great disservice to God. The god of "religion" is not the God I know.
Now, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone that I am what you would call a "Christian". As a Caucasian Canadian interested in "religion" there was a pretty good chance that I would fall in that camp. But, let me tell you what it means to me when I say, "Christian." In fact, I hesitate to say I am a "Christian" because of the cultural perceptions, and preconceived notions that puts into most people's minds. So, let me redefine that term and then throw it out completely in favour of a better term.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of playing the role of Jesus for a Good Friday sketch at church. We were able to use a scene from The Badlands Passion Play (which, if you ever have the chance to see--TAKE IT). The scene starts just before Christ's crucifixion and, because of "The Passion of The Christ," has a renewed sense of familiarity. In the scene Jesus addresses his disciples for the last time. His words are recorded in John 13:34-35, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
The importance of these lines is paramount to Jesus' mission. Jesus is not unaware of the events that are unfolding. These are His marching orders--His last commands--His last will and testament. "Guys," He is saying, "if you forget everything else, remember this, LOVE ONE ANOTHER." He doesn't say, "Gays are going to hell." He doesn't say, "shun the teenage single mom." He doesnt' say, "Win the war on drugs at all cost." He doesn't say, "God helps those who help themselves." He says something altogether more difficult and more messy. He says, "Love one another."
So, what is a "Christian"? According to Jesus Christ (after whom we get the term Christian supposedly), it is a disciple who loves other disciples. How do you know a disciple? One who loves like Jesus loved.
I find it interesting that Jesus was despised by the religious people of his day. With a message of love, why would the religious elite hate Jesus so much they wanted to see Him dead? I think it is because loving like Jesus loved is revolutionary. Jesus came to show us that God loves us and ANYONE can know God and you don't need a pastor or a priest to do it. You just need to believe Jesus. Jesus said that we could know God only through Himself, because He came from God--Jesus claimed to be God.
Well, if you're a religious leader your whole livelihood is now in question. Anyone can come to God? Simply by believing Jesus? "Absurd." "Nonsense." Maybe Jesus still bugs religious leaders today. Could that be why there are so many
Loving like Jesus means being prepared to lay everything we think matters--everything that in fact we hold precious (denomination, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, comfort),--aside for the greater good of making sure that every person knows that God loves them. In Jesus' economy what you were before meeting Jesus becomes irrelevant. Because once you encounter Jesus you become His disciple.
And because love like that is so hard to master, most don't. It is much easier to make a mold of what we think a "Christian" should look like and then fit everyone in it. And, if you don't fit...well then, you musn't be a very good "Christian." In fact, maybe you aren't a "Christian." Just like that we go from love to judgement. Just like that we water down Jesus to make him more palatable. Just like that, we find "religion."
Religion judges and sets the limits of "who's in" and "who's out." It's not the revolution that Jesus intended, but it is easier than unconditional love. Revolutions are messy. Much easier to give you a rule-book and let you carry on with your life.
Jesus never told any of His disciples to carry on with their lives. He said, "follow me." Most of his original twelve disciples were martyred. But, they were amazed along the way. They knew God. That's why Jesus came. He showed His disciples how to know God through Him. He told his disciples to love others because God is love. Somehow, we've lost that love.
Know God, Know Love. Maybe that's why I don't talk about religion...I know how far from the mark I really am.
God, I want a revolution.
This post is now up for discussion.