Why is religion such a taboo topic? Why do so many people have an aversion to hearing about spirituality, whether Christian or not? Why is it that everyone can listen to music with sex, drugs, violence, love, and friendship but God is going too far? Why is religion such a divisive subject for anyone to approach.
Today’s Readers choice is in response from a tweet by Tim Keller about the difference between Religion and Gospel.
Strictly speaking, Gospel translates to “Good News”. Some would say it is specifically the good news that Jesus brought. I’m not an etymologist or a religious historian, but I can agree that “The Gospel” is rooted in sharing the good news of Lord. Somewhere along the way, hundreds of religious groups developed over time with different perspectives and theories on who God is, what God is like, and what our relationship should be.
I am Apostolic and my grandfather was African Methodist Episodical. The two churches were completely different from each other. My grandfather’s family was taught a different way about praise and how to interact with God. You saved most of your praise for private moments and those interactions were sacred. Apostolic churches believe that praise should be joyous and a celebration. The way my two churches viewed their relationship with God were very different but they believed in the same God and used the same Bible.
I grew up somewhere in between the two methods. I picked up some things from one church family and another from the other. Like many teenagers, I eventually fell away from the church, partially because I didn’t understand who God really was. I also struggled with the internal politics of the church. I felt that power struggles don’t belong in church, everything should be focused on God.
After some time away, deep down inside, I felt that something was missing. I frequently had nightmares and couldn’t sleep. I left school during a spontaneous weekend to get baptized at my church back in Detroit. I felt better but I wasn’t 100% sure why. I felt at peace with my decision but I was still confused on what it meant. I did it but I still had no clarity about who God was and how this Christian thing worked.
Over the years, I never got a straight answer. I would have moments when I felt close to God and moments I felt so alone. I had moments when everything made perfect sense and moments when I didn’t know what to think. Every time I asked for guidance on how to pray or how to read the bible, no one ever had a solid answer. I always got the, “it all depends on your personal relationship with Him.” Well, if you don’t have a personal relationship with Him, how do you start one?
I didn’t get it. All I remembered from church when I was young was that sin was bad. God was good all the time and Satan has a lot of time on his hands. I knew the Lord’s Prayer, random verses that I recited since I was in pre-school, but nothing on how to connect. I’ll be completely honest, I still use the simplest of “Vacation Bible School” graphics on how to pray. I don’t know how to read the bible except pick a spot and keep reading. I don’t understand much in the King James Bible and frankly don’t know why there are 200 different versions of it. But one day something clicked.
One day it hit me that the reason why nobody ever gives me any answers is because there are no answers. There is no set way to do X or Y because a lot of us would focus so much on the method, that we would forget the purpose. Something I struggled with most as a child were all the rules. I never understood the denominations and separations placed on religion. Why did we start limiting God’s power by what he could and could not do? How do we know God could not do something or would not? He created the universe, so why couldn’t He pass some of His Spirit onto us? Do the simple categories we create even matter to God? Why do we “traditionally” call God a Him, when gender is definitely not a constraint He’s bond to?
The moment I stopped being so rigid about how I thought about God, the moment I started to see the Bible in a new light. As the stories in the Bible progressed, God never did the same thing twice to prove His existence. He was ever-changing and everlasting. After all of the commandments, and the trials and tribulations God’s people went through, He only wanted people to love Him because He loved us. Then, I changed from avoiding church because I despised religion, to realizing the religion and church are so flawed because we are so flawed. I went on Sundays to pick up a new perspective on God and try to see where it fits in our relationship.
Eventually, it started to feel right. Me and God could talk on my way to the store or when I’m laying in bed. When I fell off the bandwagon, behind in my reading, or focused on something I knew I shouldn’t. God was happy I came back to Him. I started to want to do better because I felt so loved. No matter how much I failed at life, I still received His blessings, support, grace, and mercy. I could talk forever about the way my life has changed but I’ll save that story for another day. (*cough* Saturday *cough*)
Any spiritual journeys that someone would like to share? What is something you struggle knowing how to do? Anything that particularly clicked? Not religious/spiritual/etc., tell me your thoughts about how you view religion (Please be respectful) ? Leave them in the comments below.
I found a decent breakdown of Tim Keller’s Gospel vs. Religion position here: Gospel vs. Religion