Christianity: religion or relationship?

If you died with Christ to the way the world thinks and acts, why do you submit to rules and regulations as though you were living in the world? – Colossians 2:20

follow shepherdToday I’m thinking about (one of) the huge double-standards we practice all too often in Christianity. We say we are reborn as children of God’s kingdom… yet we tend to keep both feet firmly planted in traditions and regulations that sometimes make Jesus second fiddle to ways of life and protocols rooted in “the way things are.”

Unfortunately, over the centuries, “the way things are” has included slavery, classism, racism, state religion, “keeping women in their place”, jingoism, nationalism, greed, and more. All these have found ready defenders in the church via the tendency of religious institutions to align themselves with, and vigorously defend, the status quo.

NEW LIFE! We preach a gospel that is all about grace, new life in Christ, living lives rooted in love rather than fear, and freedom from the tyranny of the law. Not only is our Protestant theology anchored in the principle of ongoing reformation, it was Jesus who constantly told his followers, “You have heard it said – thus and so, such and such, and along these lines – but I’m here to tell you something different….”

Then – and this is the contradiction – Christianity (or “Christianized Religiosity”) digs its heels in and extols the habits, exclusions, traditions, expectations, restrictions, values, prejudices, and limitations of the world. We say we have done with the way the world thinks and acts, yet we stand in the middle of its mess with our feet encased in concrete, and – so often – we find that we cannot move!

with Rebekah in the gardens
with Rebekah in the gardens

REBEKAH & DEREK: In my weekly local column, “Reading Between the Lines,” posted in Wake Forest Today, I pick up on this idea by sharing the story of how Rebekah and I started our life together by committing ourselves to non-traditional roles, both in the church and in our family.

Please take a minute or two to click on this link and read my column, Being a stay-at-home dad, and other tussles with “tradition”. Here’s the intro:

 The day my wife, Rebekah, started work as a Presbyterian preacher, our first child, Andrew, was just shy of eight weeks old.

“What on earth are you going to do with that baby?” someone asked. “The same thing anyone does with a baby,” we replied; “take him home from the hospital, and then hang on for dear life!”
My degree in psychology was good for either unemployment or graduate school (and we couldn’t afford either) so I decided to break precedent and sign on as “stay-at-home-dad” for the first year. – read more…

Wednesday evening, during my men’s Bible-study discussion on Romans, someone noted that we tend to break God’s heart less when we stop trying to follow every detail of the rules and regulations spelled out in the law, and simply work on our relationship with Jesus.

For me, Jesus has always been the best guide and friend – DEREK


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