Those were the words one of our LifeSong partners shared with me was asked of them by a friend from a local church. Honestly, my immediate reaction was hurt, anger and confusion because our LifeSong partner conveyed to me that the question was not asked for just basic theological information, but rather to pick a part and find something wrong with LifeSong. It was asked by a proclaimed Christ-follower. I sat and thought about that for a while that night. I have been that very person, unfortunately, that wanted to find something to pick a part…something that must be wrong. Jesus has profoundly changed my heart. I have spoken about it before. Being wounded by church people teaches you a lot about religion vs. relationship. When we seek to pick a part a fellow church in our community, we are not doing what Jesus would do. Rather, we are only representing what He’d would NOT do. We are NOT showing a world how much Christ loves them, nor are we drawing them to Christ because religion does not even look like Jesus. Religion is rules, lacking in grace and suffocates. Relationship draws people to Christ when they see us legitimately breathing in and breathing out Christ in everything we do…the good and the bad.
Yesterday at LifeSong, Pastor Hayden spoke (take time to listen to his message later this week here) of times in his own life that religious people suffocated him with judgement and condemnation over decisions he’d made and trials he had gone through in is own life. We can probably all relate to being abandoned by the very group of people God has called out to represent him, but instead their representation of Christ much more resembled that of the Pharisee. My two top take-aways from Hayden’s message yesterday were:
*Religion and religious people do not look or act like Jesus
How are you representing the way Jesus should look to others?
Hayden reminded us from John 8:7, “The sinless one among you, go first. Throw the stone.” None of us is without sin, but with Christ, we are all full of grace. Question is, are we giving grace to the lowly?
*Jesus gives life to dead men, religious people give death to live people.
Going hand in hand with the previous point, are you giving life to those around you? Christ-follower, go to that place where Jesus most often found himself – and it wasn’t with just the church people! It is where the adulterer is seeking forgiveness, the post-abortion woman is trying to find hope, the church splitter is seeking to correct their wrongs…it is where many are looking for real relationship because they are burnt out on religion.
I saw someone respond to the notion of being hurt by religious people as something that is everywhere because they linked it to churches being run by people. I totally believe that is one of the more false statements that they could’ve made. When we begin functioning that all churches are that way because people are running them, then we might as well stay home. Sure, God has called out human beings, otherwise known as mistake-makers, to lead churches, but he has called out human beings that also say NO to religion and seek to lead churches the Jesus way. Statements that all churches are that way are a very sad and lonely place to live. We only isolate ourselves from being a part of a place that will dig in the trenches in order to no longer live in religion. Religion points out the negative and lives in hopelessness that nothing will ever change. As Hayden pointed out yesterday, one of our partners at Lifesong said that they love LifeSong because there are no religious people there. That’s bold to say, but I believe it to be true. From the beginning we have asked that the religious people stay home, or be willing to stop the religion and begin the relationship. So, nope, religion does NOT have to exist in every church. We’re asking people at LifeSong to say NO to it. Will you say NO, too?