how to handle religious bigots

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this morning in Tyler Run

I’ve shared before how Rebekah and I are reading the Oswald Chambers’ classic My Utmost for His Highest for our morning devotions. If my music has its roots in James Taylor, then I’d say my writing (which is a much more complex equation) is continuing the conversation initiated by Chambers, along with thinkers such as C.S. Lewis.

Here’s a sampling of quotes from today’s reading:

  • “Beware of making a fetish of consistency to your convictions instead of being devoted to God.”
  • “It is easier to be a fanatic than a faithful soul.”
  • “There is something amazingly humbling, particularly to our religious conceit, in being loyal to God.”

This is what I’ve been talking about for a long time (including yesterday), this tendency we have to make our religious structures – which are the inventions of people – more important than the attainment of reconciliation with God.

Christianity, for example, is the religious structure that supports our response to Christ’s invitation to rejoin God’s family by walking through the gate he has opened.

  • Me: “Hi, I’m Derek, I’m a friend of Jesus.”
  • God: “Welcome home, Derek.”

So we don’t go to church and live the life of a disciple in order to get to heaven, and we certainly don’t have to go to “the right” church to experience salvation! Church is where we gather to celebrate what Jesus has done, it’s where we encourage one another to walk with Jesus more closely, it’s where we practice Koinonia, and it’s where we pool our resources in order to serve God in the world.

Beware the religious leader – or follower – who has an extensive catalogue of “commandments,” or rules, or regulations, or thou-shalt-nots, any kind of litmus test for “getting saved,” or any list that is longer or more detailed than the one Jesus used: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40).

Something Practical You Can Use:

That’s all I’ve got today. One of my first appointments in heaven is going to be a long morning of coffee and conversation with Oswald Chambers. Until that time, I’ll offer you this nugget from My Utmost for His Highest (although I doubt Chambers would support the idea in terms of what I’m suggesting!)…

Here it is. The next time someone uses religious code to sanction you in any way, to criticise your life, to berate groups of people vis-a-vis their lives or their politics, or especially to “correct” your wide-open understanding of the reach of God’s love, unload any of these Chambers quotes on them:

  • cropped-1-img_1996.jpg
    author Derek Maul with Scout

    “Beware of making a fetish of consistency to your convictions instead of being devoted to God.”

  • “It is easier to be a fanatic than a faithful soul.”
  • “There is something amazingly humbling, particularly to our religious conceit, in being loyal to God.”

You’re welcome! – DEREK

2 comments

  1. Thanks Derek. As I affirm your central word of encouragement, I also have to push back on the idea of church being a “where we gather.” Rather, in this season of pastoring two churches without walls, it has become a “where ever”.

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    • But of course! It’s not the building that’s church, but the gathering. For us, the worship aspect of gathering as a community occurs in the sanctuary at WFPC – but we are just as much church where we serve and where we fellowship. The common denominator, I believe, is the “together” aspect that makes koinonia real.

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