If you were raised in and around church you’ve probably been told your religious. I can tell you I have been called religious more than once in my life. In 8th grade I was bullied for my faith. Now don’t get me wrong I was all out there with my faith because I felt like everyone should know Jesus. I wore Jesus t-shirts (yes I know that set me up for being bullied because kids are mean). There was some skater boys that would pick on me and one day one of the kids asked, “Why do you wear Jesus shirts all the time. Does that mean you are super religious?” I mean yes, I was born and raised in church. Yes, I have moral standards that connect to and with the Bible. Yes, I do things because I believe in them. But at the end of the day I wouldn’t consider myself a religious person. I would consider myself someone to have faith and trust in God, so that we can be in relationship with Him.
For some time now people have a bad stigma about churches or “religion.” People who don’t believe in God look at the church and they see a whole lot of “religious” people. Outsiders and even people inside of the church have been hurt by either the church itself or someone that has gone to church and consider themselves religious. I know for a fact there is a lot of people who are turned off by the church because they think the church people would rather do so many things to prove they are perfect, or the church is perfect, or their feelings simply do not matter.
See religious people tend to only care about themselves and where they are going when this life ends. I think of the Pharisees back in Jesus’s time. They were the ones doing all the right things in front of people and behind everyone’s back they were sinning just like everyone else. They could keep the law and they thought they were going to get to Heaven just because they kept their list of wrongs and rights in order. Which is much like the religious people today. You see religious people only care about themselves. They care about hiding their sin to make sure they look better than everyone else. They care more about following what is right and wrong rather than a relationship with God and everyone around them.
The thing is when the Pharisees walked around with their chins high hurting and trying to catch other people in their sin, Jesus was catching them in their sin. I think about the story when the Pharisees took the woman caught in adultery asking Jesus if they could stone her. Then Jesus said those who are without sin throw the first stone, and within time they all walked away. Compare it to “religious” people now and they do the same thing. They forget of the sins they have done because they think they are better than everyone else.
You see religion can only get you so far. It can help with the right morals, the right direction you are supposed to take for your life, it can show you the can do’s and the cannots, but what is the point of religion if there is no faith?
Jesus comes along. He flipped everything upside down for both the Pharisee’s and the woman. He basically told the Pharisee’s stop believing in the law (religion) and to the woman he said go and sin no more. Jesus full of love and mercy told this woman to go and sin no more knowing full well she was going to sin again. We don’t get the other side of the story from the woman. We don’t know what happened to her, nor do we know what she thought afterwords. If I had to take a guess (not adding to the Bible of course) but she started to live her life full of faith, because that’s what a lot of people who experienced Jesus in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John started to do.
So what does it look like to have faith? I think the best answer is being in relationship with God. Faith is believing in what you cannot see, but I believe that it goes deeper than that. Faith is being in relationship even when you doubt, even when things don’t go your way, faith is trusting that a relationship is good even when it doesn’t feel like it is. Think about this way, when you get married, you have faith that another person is going to be with you until the end of time. Faith is trusting that the marriage good or bad will continue and you will have the ability to work things out with one another. Faith is trusting even when you don’t feel loved. If there is no faith, is there really a relationship? The same thing applies to God. Even when you don’t feel like you have a relationship with God, and you have accepted Jesus into your heart, you have to have faith and trust that he is there. Relationships are all about giving and taking, so is faith. Faith is being in relationship with God and trusting what is going to happen. God takes away something, faith is trusting what is coming next. God gives you something, faith is trying to do whatever you can with that gift to glorify Him. You don’t have faith if you don’t have a relationship, which then takes you right back to religion.
If you have faith or a relationship with God it doesn’t give you the freedom to do what you want. You see even in this relationship with God there are rules for you to obey. Just like in your marriages, dating relationships, friendships or any other relationship you have in your life. You say okay lets do this not do that. God is the same way. He has set things in place to keep us in relationship with Him. Not to make Him a mean God or to keep us under His powers, and not to take away our freedom. He has set things in place so that we can learn from them, experience Joy, and to Glorify Him.
When you are walking in faith aka relationship, your whole life looks different. You don’t want to do the wrong things not because you have to but because you want to be different. When you have a relationship with God you want to try not to sin. You want to try to hold your tongue, not hurt others, not lash out, and the list goes on and on. I get that your human but when you are in relationship with God, nothing else matters other than wanting to try to please Him. One little tidbit too God is for you, He wants to be for you…especially if you are in a relationship with Him.
One little thing before I end this. If you have been hurt by someone in the Church or the Church itself, you are not alone. I have been too and I am sorry for whatever happened. Just remember the Church isn’t perfect, even the best churches do things wrong. Churches that have faith more than religion are still going to make mistakes.
Which leads me to ask you…Where are you in this? Are you on the fence because religion is easier than having a relationship? Or are you on the religious side because it is easier to weigh your good and bads on a scale? Do you have a relationship with God? If you ever need to talk, know that I am always available. Where ever you find yourself too you are home…Welcome Home.
8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
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