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Free from religion

“Religion” has become a bad word. In a society that puts a premium on authenticity, it has come to mean “pre-planned.” In a culture that prizes reality, it has connotations of stiff formality. “Religion” has become a bad brand. Barna’s stats tell us that 2 million young people a year are fle…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
“Religion” has become a bad word. In a society that puts a premium on authenticity, it has come to mean “pre-planned.” In a culture that prizes reality, it has connotations of stiff formality.
“Religion” has become a bad brand. Barna’s stats tell us that 2 million young people a year are fleeing the organized church.
 
I wonder who will be left.
 
Maybe you sniffed it out in college – this pre-fab spirituality. Somebody telling you how you were going to connect with God in a bulletin.
 
Call someone “religious” and you’re really saying “you do stuff that I find strange.” Maybe you’re saying, “Your religion puts God in a box so small, I don’t fit in the picture.”
 
For all of you reading this who have a problem with religion, the good news is that Jesus had a problem with it too. He didn’t like the ways that religion had been used to keep people from God and fought against it. Just as he fights to set people free from religion today.
 
Jesus didn’t come to make us comfortable, but to make us dangerous. He wanted to move people from the activity of sin-maintenance and into relationship.
 
Sometimes those who make their living in some religious establishment will declare that Jesus no longer heals. They haven’t seen him heal, so they organize their theology around their lack of experience. It was the same in Jesus’ day. He didn’t do many miracles around those with small, religious God boxes.*
 
It’s not that he doesn’t do miracles, it’s just that he’s left the building. Religion can cease to be about worship and become an effort to define and control God. It may resonate with the comfortable, but those not enmeshed in the system of rules know better.
 
Are you tired of religion? Are you free from religion? Today is a good day to get out of religion and into relationship.
 
* Mark 6

Comments (18)

  • Amen. This is the groaning of my soul. I yearn to be dangerous, but still grieve when that Christ invites ridicule and persecution from others, especially Christians. Authenticity is a daring and dangerous move, and will often put us out on a limb, and perhaps leave us out to dry. That is still a long way shy of being crucified. Help me to be dangerous.
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Amen Seth! Walk with the Lord, every minute, every day. Not with him only in a building on Sunday morning.

    Thanks and Blessing,
    Jonnie

  • I think the etymology of the word “religion” is interesting:

    The Latin word religio comes from the two words re and ligare. Re is a prefix meaning “return,” and ligare means “to bind;” in other words, “return to bondage.”

    Need I say more?

  • Folks, thanks for coming out tonight, but Jesus has LEFT the building!

    The good news is that through faith Christ can be encountered outside, in the streets and back alleys of the world. May we never let the IDEAS of faith distract us from the EXERCISE of faith. Sometimes the Sanctuary can become antiseptic it its religiosity and we unwittingly cut ourselves off from the untamed power and edgy reality of the presence of the risen Lord.

    Jesus sent out the disciples to connect with people in His name. They were shocked to discover what they could do in His name. Why not us?

  • For Paul, it was circumcision. Today: it’s neat, tight, predictable theology. I can hear Roberta Flack singing the question, “Where is the love…?”

  • This is Religion:

    “To look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

    Oh God, I desperately want this!

  • Frank and I were just talking about how Jesus was rejected because he broke the Sabbath laws. And how breaking from traditional religion, can feel like you’re breaking away from God. But when you take away the checklists, what remains is this amazing God who feels so personal and so interested in you, and not what you’ve done or do for him, that you can’t stop thinking about him. He becomes the obsession, not the checklist.

  • I am still in the process of breaking free from the psychological burden of religion. That which was liberating for my parents has been a weight around my neck. It’s hard cause I was indoctrinated from a young age and my parents are reasonably intelligent people and are non-denominational Christians and really have “faith” rather than adherence to family tradition (ie Catholicism). They present convincing and sincere arguments for it rather than just “this is right and you must believe”. They have no idea the impact this has had on my life and my way of thinking which often turns out to be irrational and absolutist as a result. I’ve stopped reading my Bible and Qu’ran and have come to the conclusion all dogma and especially religious doctrine (especially monotheistic) is totally F—-! Since I stopped praying and having religiously fatalistic notions about myself I have: stopped taking drugs, felt more at ease in my own skin, am more open to new ideas. It’s so empowering knowing my choice is my own and that I am not judged for every thought in my head! Please email me to discuss if you are in a similar position: [email protected] Bless!

  • Great post, Seth!

    Great line: “Religion can cease to be about worship and become an effort to define and control God.”

    From the lyrics of “Oh, How He Loves Us” by Jesus Culture: “He loves like a hurricane!” Amen, amen, amen.

    Following Jesus is not for the faint-hearted, the timid, or the complacent – those content with the status quo!

    Jesus wants all of us, every last cell and particle…and that’s one scary proposition!

    Judith

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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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