We like to throw the term “religious” around a lot. It’s super popular in American Christianity right now to accuse everyone of being religious. I am here to tell you that if you like to call people religious, you are religious.
We think that religion is whether or not you relate to God through a set of rules, and it’s true that this is one manifestation of religion, but you can religiously relate to God by no rules at all. Religion is not a system, although it is often enforced by a system. Religion is a state of the heart.
Religion is the way that mankind wants to relate to God apart from relationship. It doesn’t matter what system of doctrine or non-doctrine you do it in, if you are not moving from a place of relationship, you are in religion. You don’t even have to be a Christian to be religious. You don’t have to be “religious” at all to be religious. Religion is simply any way you relate to God apart from a deep abiding connection with Him.
This is why people who focus on “religion” a lot are religious. They are still living in the world of what “system” or method of life should be adopted. One with rules or one without? And that is a good question, but by rejecting rules you cannot get rid of religion. You can only replace it with a more pagan religion. Your system can push you toward religion or away from it, but religion comes from the sinful human heart.
The only cure for religion is oneness with God. When you are abiding in God, you don’t need a doctrine to tell you about Him, because you are in Him. If I want to know more about a famous actress, I have to read a website because she is distant. I need to learn facts and stats. And then I will know about her. I will have good “doctrine” about that actress.
But it would be absurd to try to learn more about my wife through this method. It would apply a great deal of distance if I had to learn about her from a fact sheet. Rather, as I know her, I can make statements about her from our living relationship. You don’t have to tell me what makes her happy. I experience it, and I could tell you. This is the antidote to religion.
If all you have is a doctrine, you are not close to God. Even if your doctrine is that those who have doctrines are “religious.” You cannot escape religion simply by accusing others of being that way. You simply only prove that you too are religious.
When you meet someone who knows God, it is different. They aren’t wrapped up in what others are doing or not doing. They are wrapped up in God living in them, and bringing His identity into the earth. So most people are religious. And all of us have been religious at one time or another in our lives. The challenge is to move from religion to relationship. From doctrine to experience. From what is written to what is alive.
In order to do that, you must be committed to radically change. To allow your encounter with Him to change you over and over again. To allow your doctrine to be shaped by your experience. Most people simply are not committed to this, and therefore they remain in the realm knowing about God rather than actually knowing God. Somewhere on that journey facts become reality and religion becomes relationship. You become totally captivated by Him and life gets in its proper perspective.
Are you ready?