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Burned Out on Religion?

When it comes to religion, some people think, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." If it worked before, just keep doing it. They're good at making and keeping the helpful pointers and guidelines that we all need. If they were clerks in a store, they would be the ones who he…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

When it comes to religion, some people think, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." If it worked before, just keep doing it. They're good at making and keeping the helpful pointers and guidelines that we all need.

If they were clerks in a store, they would be the ones who help the rest of us find our way to the things we're searching for, whether they be clothes or a machine of some kind. In the church, they're helping us find our way to God.

And we need them. Most of us lose track of God in the course of living and can use a little guidance as we look for him. Religion and the people who practice it can help.

But there's an age-old problem built into the system. It was a major issue for Jesus and it's likely to be one for us in the modern day too. The trouble is, we worship a dangerous God, a God of surprises. We worship an endlessly creative God who prefers the authentic to the canned.

Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest." (Matt. 11:28)

Burnout happens when we realize that what used to bring us life isn't working any more. It is a normal, healthy response to a faith that has gone stale. It keeps us hungry and on the road to authentic faith. If we are listening to the Spirit, we can sense when we're getting spiritually tired.

In Jesus' time, the religious people experienced burnout just like we do, but struggled to make adjustments. They would study the Scriptures even more, hoping to find answers. Jesus rebuked them, "You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life…yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (John 5:39-40)

A lot of religious people will tell you, "If you feel spiritually dry, you need to study the Bible more."

Maybe so. But it's worth noting what the Bible itself says – we need to come to Jesus.

So how do we do as Jesus suggested and "get away with him"?

I suggest making space for him. Is there space for him in your busy schedule? If he were to speak to you, could you hear him above the noise all around you? If not, consider "getting away" with him. If you live in a city, that may mean leaving for a quieter place, or at least getting up earlier.

And then in that quiet place, consider asking him questions. Questions are vital to relationships – they start dialogue. Because it can be hard for me to focus, I like to use a journal alongside my Bible. It also gives me a good record of what happened – faint ink is stronger than the strongest memory.

Tired? Burned out on religion? Jesus doesn't like it any more than you do. He wants relationship. He beckons to you: "Come to me."

Let him speak to you and see if it doesn't feel like rest.

Comments (10)

  • God has me on a new path lately, led by His Spirit. I am looking up every Scripture that has the word “grace” in it, and them asking the Spirit of Truth to expound on that for me, and it is amazing what He is showing me about Him. He is so multi-faceted and wondrous, that when I eat of Him in this way, I am filled with His Life and Truth. It is an adventure to see what He will reveal about Himself to me each time. In Him are all the treasures.

  • I’ll testify to the accuracy of this Great job capturing a core issue with christianity in the world today.

    For many people routine is Holiness. This isn’t true God seeks to interact with us. Not a scheduled pious time.

    Weather it’s quiet time routines, church service routines, or just the same worship music over and over(like a solo playlist on the WorldRace for 11 months). Too much routine seems to put us on “auto pilot” even for those of trying to deepen our relationship.

    Genuine, heartfelt worship and pray seem to be the best ways to connect with Jesus. And listening is crucial to keeping things moving forward.

    Thanks for this Seth.

  • Hey, Clint. Yes, I know what you mean. Got out of that about 9 years ago, and now am communing with Him daily. The only performance in that is when He “performs” or reveals more of Himself to me during that time together. It’s not a religious activity, though, as I get so much enrichment out of it, that I want to meet with Him, even though I know that He is in me and that I can commune with Him at all times, and I do that too. It’s just that when I shut off my activities and mind, it is easier to do when I have alone time with Him. It’s just a matter of having less distractions, that’s all. And I don’t feel guilty if I don’t do this. In fact, it has been just recently that I’ve started it, and that is because He has led me to by His Spirit. Life is so much better when it’s spirit led or driven, not man led or guilt driven. Aw, the fresh air of His Spirit brings His sweet peace.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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