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Showing posts with label #Religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #Religion. Show all posts

01 January 2019

Religious. Not “spiritual.”

Happy new year. Thought I’d write a mission statement.

Happy new year. At the beginning of the year I figure it’s not a bad idea to remind readers the point of The Christ Almighty Blog. (Or TXAB for short.) Remind myself too; I’ve seen many a blog where it began as one thing and evolved into another. God forbid, TXAB could warp into yet another blog where I’m bitterly ranting about Christian misbehavior. Plenty enough of those as it is.

TXAB is about following Jesus the Nazarene and his teachings. Since he’s our God-anointed king—or Messiah or Christ—we Christ-followers get called Christians. Though every once in a while some snobbish Christian insists, “No, not Christian; I want to be called a Christ-follower,” and once again we risk turning TXAB into a rant about Christian misbehavior.

To be fair, the Christ-follower has a point. Christian quite often means a Christ-fan. Someone who really likes Jesus, claims to love him (or at least love Jesus as they imagine him), yet doesn’t follow him any. Such people conform to popular Christian culture, and thereby become Christianist. They presume they know him, and don’t really. As we can see whenever they have an authentic God-encounter: Either they immediately recognize their error and repent… or recoil in horror and offense, and expose how they were never really interested in God to begin with. Those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit are one obvious example, but there are plenty of others.

So when we purpose to quit following the crowd and start following Jesus whithersoever he may lead, it’s called being religious. Problem is, irreligious people (particularly in the Evangelical movement) have turned “religious” and “religion” into dirty words. The way they describe it, religion only refers to works righteousness: You think you earn heaven by doing the rituals, being good, and amassing so much good karma God has to let you in. But God doesn’t work that way at all: Nobody earns heaven. We get in because God’s gracious. No other reason.

To be fair, most religions do figure you earn heaven (or a good afterlife, a good reincarnation, or oneness with the universe) because you earned it through good deeds. And a fair amount of this pagan point of view has leaked into Christianity. So we do have to be vigilant lest any Christian get the wrong idea, and think good deeds are how you get heaven—or worse, think bad deeds can undo your salvation. (You can undo your salvation, but it’s done by deliberately quitting Jesus. Not by sinning.)

Problem is, humans are creatures of extremes. It’s not enough to say, “Hey, that’s wrong; don’t do that.” Some people gotta go so far in the opposite direction, they’re doing the opposite. So while some of us Christians are gonna correctly say, “We’re saved by grace, not works; Ep 2.8-9 stop trying to earn karma for heaven,” others are gonna wrongly say, “We’re saved by grace, not works; stop doing good works.”

Um… we’re supposed to do good works. Ep 2.10 Had you read the bible? We’re told time and again to be good. That God hates sin. Even if he forgives all (and he does!), don’t do what irritates your Father. Stop sinning!

If we claim we belong to Jesus, if we claim to follow Jesus, what’s the proof of these claims? Well duh: We act like Jesus! 1Jn 2.6 We behave ourselves. We try to be good people. We do as he taught. What kind of rotten employees don’t do as their boss says? Employees who oughta be fired, maybe even sued, certainly kicked out of the building, that’s who. And that’s what Jesus describes in more than one parable.

I’m not saying such ingrates can’t repent and be forgiven. Again, everyone can. But if people think we’re entitled to God’s kingdom regardless of how everything in our lives indicate we’re utterly opposed to this kingdom… is this kingdom truly where we’re headed? Jesus surely makes it sound doubtful.

So yeah, religion doesn’t save. That’s not its purpose whatsoever. But it’s not nothing! What it is, is good fruit. It reveals who takes Jesus seriously, and who doesn’t. It makes clear who’s truly saved. And irreligion makes clear… who’s really not.

If you wanna be religious, TXAB hopefully points you the right direction. And if you don’t… well that’s too bad. Hopefully you have enough of a relationship with God that the Holy Spirit eventually convinces you otherwise. Because if you’re satisfied with only being “spiritual,” y’might still get into God’s kingdom… but as the lowest person in it, with nothing to show for your “Christianity,” such as it was.