Losing My Religion
“That’s me in the corner. That’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion…” – R.E.M.
You know, I’ve always been puzzled about what Michael Stipe intended when he wrote that hit song for R.E.M. back in 1991. Yet, the older I get the more I find that I can relate to it’s title. You see, I’ve been “losing my religion.”
Now before you get in a panic and wonder if I’m going though some kind of mid-life faith crisis, I think I should explain what I mean. For too many people, “religion” is seen as an institution, a set of legalistic hoops that one has to jump through to win God’s favor and blessing. If you want to be cool with God you’ve got to do the right things, worship a certain way, pray a certain way, dress a certain way and wear a halo in the public’s eye. The truth is, by these standards, most people don’t measure up. I know I can’t! In fact, a lot of people find that “religion” tries to put God, you and me in a box. If you don’t do the right things then God won’t love you…or at least His people may not! I know a lot of people who have experienced “church” in this way. Institutional religion gets in the way of people experiencing Jesus all of the time!
The trouble is, I don’t think God ever intended us to be boxed in by religious rules and regulations. Heck, Jesus even balked at being put in a box by the religion of his day. He healed people on the Sabbath even though it broke the rules. He ate out with the wrong kind of crowd which tarnished his image. In fact, when Jesus visited Jerusalem, he even overturned the tables in the Temple when religious practice turned a House of prayer into a lare of empty ritual. In the end, it was the “religious” leaders who wanted Jesus nailed to the cross. Why? Because he was making people lose their “religion” and yearn for something more.
Want the gospel truth? God doesn’t want “religion,” He wants a relationship…with you! He loves you even with your messy past, despite of what people think about your weight, your tattoos or the way you dress, and even though you might have a few bad habits. God loves you! That’s why Jesus let himself be nailed to that cross, so that you could experience the power of God’s love and that He wants a new kind of relationship with you that is deeper and more profound than any “religion” could ever be. He died, He rose again on the third day (we call it Easter), so that you could be freed to live faith and to live life outside of the box!
I discovered that “religion” is a lot like that old Wendy’s TV ad leaving one to ask, “Where’s the beef?” when you want something of real substance to chew on in your life. Given up on “religion?” So have I.
But I found something far greater when I merged my life with Jesus and made him not only my Lord and Savior but the King of my life, finances, family and future. Sure life is tough. But since I merged with Jesus I’ve found the road that’s given me the peace to face tough times, the hope to not quit…no matter what, and the faith to believe that the best path is the one I haven’t discovered yet. Most importantly, having merged with Jesus, I now see life and people through Jesus’ eyes. The world looks a lot different when you see it from the vantage point of the cross!
Losing my “religion” has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Are you ready to lose yours?