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Are You Religious?

Are you religious?

Ugh…I hate that question. My answer is 110% without a shadow of a doubt, no. No, I am not religious. That feels good to say. Religion is dirty. It’s judgmental and ridged. It makes me feel not-good-enough, like always. If I was religious, I’d never be able to get it right, or even get within a million miles of a relationship with God. No. No, I am not religious.

I am a Christian. A follower of Christ. Inspired by the Son of God, whom through I am enabled to be closer to God. There is a difference.

Jesus was a rebel. He pissed of authority and the ridged, law-abiding church in His time. He pissed them off because he rightfully questioned the way they loved each other. Jesus made it cool to be a child, and a woman, both of whom in his day were frowned upon (and if you’re a child or a woman I suggest you give him a spiritual high-five whether you deem Him the Savior of the world or not). Jesus made it okay, and even our duty, to love the poor and to care for the needy. Jesus broke down the hierarchy of the church and allowed us ALL to have a growing, working, living relationship with the creator of everything.

I grew up in a strict Lutheran setting. The church pews ached my butt and the psalms were chanted. If that’s how you connect with our creator, more power to you in your worship. But for me, God makes me want to sing, and dance, and cry (literally) with joy and overwhelming love…so in high school I left that church. Eventually I left all churches and made up my own I’m-close-enough-to-God-that-He-loves-me-no-matter-what worship where I let myself get away with way too much in the name of fun and freedom. I was so lost I even told someone that I was a Christian who believed I didn’t need to believe in Jesus to know God. WHAT?!?! It’s laughable because, by definition, a Christian HAS to believe that the only way to God is THROUGH Jesus. I literally didn’t even realize that until he told me so… THAT’S how much I DIDN’T get my Lutheran teachings.

My run across America was the first step I took in knowing Jesus. The real, living, breathing, have-a-relationship-with-God, Jesus. As I got to know Jesus more, my fear grew…I realized that the more I understood God and what He wants for us as humans, the further I actually was. The wonderful safety-net in that is as I work on who I am as person, becoming more and more like God wants me to be, I know He loves me anyways just as I am and my true belief in Jesus means I am saved.

That knowledge does not give me the right to be stagnant in life. It does not give me the right to act like I’m holier than holy because, I mean, compared to all the other souls in this world I’ve totally got it figured out. It does not mean I know what God wants for you, or my neighbor, or my brother, or my friends. It does not mean that for even one second I can stop seeking His guidance.

Oh, no. It actually means the opposite. The more I know Jesus, the more I am INSPIRED to do more in my life. The more I know Jesus, the more I acknowledge my lack of holiness and NEED for him. The more I know Jesus, the LESS I compare my life to the lives, actions, thoughts, and deeds of the world around me. The more I know Jesus, the MORE I acknowledge I know very little about His calling for others. The more I know Jesus, the more I seek His unending guidance.

My best friend is gay. She’s marrying the love of her life next year, and when Minnesota (that’s where she lives) passed the gay-marriage law last month I cried tears of happiness and joy. I feel an overwhelming urge to pray that all people, gay or straight, can feel the joy of finding their perfect partner. Is she going to hell? The Bible “says” so, but the more I know Jesus, the more I acknowledge that it. is. not. my. place. to make that call. Tattoos, piercings, lust, GLUTTONY (if you’re fat, this means you), idol worship…these are ALL things in the Bible that can send us straight to hell. I don’t see the church petitioning to close every tattoo parlor in their hometown, or hosting fitness & nutrition interventions to save the soul of every fat member of their church.

To tell you the truth I actually know very little about the bible, but that’s why I attempt to study it every day. That’s why I found a church who’s denomination I would consider “You’re a creation of God? Then welcome…”. In my attendance at church, and in my bible study I understand I need to practice acceptance and love of every human I encounter…that means the ones that annoy me, the ones that frustrate me, the ones that choose a lifestyle I don’t understand, the ones that are rich, the ones that are poor, the ones that are weird, the ones that are happy, the ones that are depressed, the ones with tattoos, the ones who are over-weight, the ones that are lost, and the ones that are too found. Everyone.

I think anyone who tries that is one step closer to Jesus. Which for me is right where I want to be.

  • by ashleyk
  • posted at 9:10 AM
  • June 26, 2013