I love Jesus. But I’m not into religion.
This is a common topic among many of us theological musers right now. Even more cringe worthy is the claim, “I’m not religious, but I’m very spiritual.”
But when you ask what their spirituality looks like, it’s a combination of different aspects of forty different theologies. Some people say these spirituals are just picking the concepts they like and leaving the icky parts, customizing a system just for themselves. I prefer to think of them as people just trying to figure this life out (like most of us…), and using the things that make the most sense to them. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about now.
I’m here to talk about why Jesus is my Savior, but I’m not a religious person.
I have some problems with the term religion because it implies a rote, legalistic system with no connection. My relationship with Jesus isn’t rote or legalistic. It’s messy and there’s gray areas, and it’s beautiful.
I grew up going to Sunday school at a Catholic church, and I despised it. Every Sunday was a fight with my parents before I was loaded into the car and dropped off for two hours of utter misery. My lesson books were filled with doodles and drawings, but my parents didn’t care because I might be learning something through osmosis (doubtful). My other interactions with faith when I was young came from Awanas, which I actually asked to be a part of, because the kids always looked like they were having fun and they had bonfires. The only thing Awanas proved was that I am decently good at short term memorization of verses (long enough to get the little jewel for my vest) and bonfires are awesome.
Even though I wasn’t learning about Jesus and I wasn’t learning about God the Father at Awanas and Sunday school, I was learning about the kind of relationship I wanted to have with God. I came out of these institutions knowing that I wanted to confess my sins directly to God, I wanted to sit at His feet and listen like Mary does when Jesus visits her home. I didn’t want to tell a priest how many times I swore (I’d never leave the confessional), and I didn’t want to recite prayers to wipe my slate clean. I wanted to sit down, tell God what I did and how I felt about it, and ask for His forgiveness, and for the grace for me to forgive myself. The word relationship means both parties are involved in some capacity. I wanted to have a relationship with God.
The problem with the term “religion” is that it doesn’t adequately encompass what following Jesus actually means. Religion has become synonymous with routine, and that’s probably not how it was originally intended. But I know I’m not the only person out there who has had negative experiences with religion and religious people.
So no, I’m not religious. But I am a faithful daughter to an almighty Father. I seek His heart and His will, and I follow His agenda. For me, following Jesus isn’t a religion, it’s my way of life.