Jesus had compassion on the burnouts, of whom I'm one. Here was his prescription for those tired of a hollow, lifeless faith:
"Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matt. 11:30
For too long, I was burned out in my walk of faith. Too reliant on lifeless religious habits. I've carried around spiritual baggage that felt impossibly heavy for years at a time. And in that airless place, I've longed to breathe – to live lightly. I've longed for freedom, but not understood how to go looking for it.
22 years ago, when I gave up on dead religion and began to learn the unforced rhythms of grace, everything changed. Ironically, it started when, at the end of my rope, I declared emotional bankruptcy: "God, if you don't show up, I think I will die."
On the other side of that was a God who offered a conversation. My creator was waiting for me to burn out on my tired religious habits. He was waiting for me to keep company with him, to hang out with no agenda.
These days, when I go into a place where people aren't burned out on tired religion yet, a place where people are pretending to be OK, it calls up that feeling of exhaustion I once felt. I don't have much capacity to pretend to be OK in a place like that. You can read it on my face. I can be very un-PC in a dead church.
It's given me a lot of compassion for young people. Many of them are refugees fleeing the wreckage of dead religion. I tend to hang out with burnouts and refugees. It's like I hear a voice crying inside me, "Give me authenticity, or give me death."
If you're in a dead place trying to be a missionary to people who are practicing religious habits and you don't have a specific call to that mission field, here's my advice: Get out of that stuffy place before you stop breathing!
Go where Jesus is hanging out and keep company with him. Learn to live freely and lightly.