by Bruce Maples
You know, I’m really getting tired of religion.
I don’t mean spirituality, necessarily, and I certainly don’t mean the practice of Christlikeness. But I surely do mean the earthly-focused, useless, institutional, powerless, unexamined fabric of delusions and rituals that pass for Christianity in many churches and places.
If we go to church most Sundays, we feel like we’re on the right path. If we go to Sunday School too, or serve on a committee, or sing in the choir, then we are even more certain that our Christianity has a solid footing. And if we actually practice tithing, or go to prayer meeting, then we are looked up to as a “mature” or “serious” Christian.
While each of these actvities may — I say “may” — indicate a growing follower of Christ, if you tell me that such things necessarily indicate someone who is moving far down the path of Christ-following, my first reaction is Bullshit.
We need to read the Gospels again. We need to again see the people who followed Jesus — the losers, the immoral, the broken, the seekers — and the people who attacked Jesus — the religious, the successful, the powerful, the winners. We have created churches, and denominations, and a religion for the winners, and we have taken out any intimation that being a Christian may take you from winning to losing.
Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look around. What type of students are often guest speakers in our churches? Star athletes. What churches get all the attention? The ones that are growing the most numerically. What pastors get the important speaking invitations, the chance to lead workshops? The pastors of those growing churches.
Just once I’d like to see Brother Jones of First Sap Hollow Baptist asked to deliver the convention sermon, simply because he is a man of God who has served where God put him and done it with both faithfulness and Christlikeness. Just once I’d like to see a church featured in a Christian publication not because it is growing in numbers, but because it is growing in service or Christlikeness. Instead, we focus on who is barking loudest about the latest leading sin, or who is denouncing whom in which pulpit.
Many years ago, an author wrote a popular book called “How to Be a Christian Without Being Religious.” We need a follow-up book on those who are religious without being Christian.