I was always warned about the "other" religions, but I'm learning that it's not that simple. Religion is a matter of your heart. Anyone, in any church, can become religious. It's quite easy.
Religion happens when any church or any believer refuses to change.
But because the Youth Group Girl with a guilty conscience is still in there somewhere, and because my whole life I have been SO trained to protect, guard, defend . . . BEWARE OF CHANGE, . . . I have these moments of panic when I think, I must be so wrong. No one else sees it like this . . . the heart is deceitful, I must be deceiving myself . . . I've become what I've been warned about . . . and the temptation is there to crawl back into what is familiar, popular, safe.
But how do you know the difference between "holding fast to sound doctrine," and having the "eyes of your understanding enlightened . . . "?
Because . . . as much as I fear change, following Christ requires it. . . there is just so much to say here . . .
I daily ask God to change me, to reveal any hidden sin in me, to open my eyes to see Him more clearly, understand His Truth more fully . . . .
We are to "walk" in the Spirit" and "keep in step" with the Spirit.
God is always doing a "new thing," it is up to us to "perceive" it.
We are told to GROW . . . "grow in grace and knowledge."
God is always working in ways we could not expect.
A spiritual life that has stopped growing and changing is stunted, sour . . . religious.
A spiritual life that must rely on another person for truth is parasitic, fetal . . . religious.
A spiritual life that grows around unresolved anger or unhealthy emotions becomes cancerous, legalistic . . . religious.
After many years and many churches, I've learned to spot religion, and recognize it in myself as well.
When I am religious, I am insecure. I worry more about my appearance, like how I look physically, or if I've said the right thing, made the right impression. I care more about what people think of me. When I am abiding in Christ I know that I am wildly loved and accepted, and that is such a safe place.
When I am religious, I doubt myself and my own relationship with God and the Bible, and therefore reading Scripture is less exciting and more dutiful. When I am abiding in Christ, I find Him everywhere, His Word echoes off of everything I see and do.
When I am abiding in Christ I find the freedom to create. When I am religious I can only maintain.
Religious people are angry. Abiding in Christ I find the grace of love, joy, peace, patience . .. .
When I am religious I feel "called" to more, serve more, do more. When I am abiding in Christ I feel called to harder things, like loving my enemies, and doing good to those who hate me.
In religion people know Truth, and use Truth to criticize, slander, gossip . . . people who are walking with Christ know Wisdom, which is gentle, peaceable, easy to be entreated . . . .
Religion makes me skeptical. Christ makes me hopeful.
From silly devotions and from sour-faced saints, Good Lord, deliver us.
-Teresa of Avila
(I thought I wouldn't have to put a disclaimer here but maybe I do . . . Jesus, salvation, sin, the Bible . . . the foundation doesn't change).