Back when I was a senior in high school, something changed me.
It’s a long story, but the gist of it is that the evidence of Christ was brought before me, and it stacked high enough that I relinquished myself to Him. I could see that my sin was a problem I couldn’t fix and that God fixed it for me through the blood of the Messiah on cross.
This dawning was similar to Neo’s emergence from the Matrix in the film by that name—everything I thought was real was pulled back to reveal the true framework behind what my eyes could see. That reality was God and His redemptive work throughout the ages. [Unlike Neo’s emergence from the bright-and-vibrant fake world into the bland-and-dingy real world, my emergence was the opposite: I was in the bland-and-dingy fake world, and the Lord ushered me into the bright-and-vibrant real world.]
At that time, I could sense new life within me, upholding me, girding me; but I didn’t realize it was obvious to others. It was. And those who noticed felt the need to label and define what was different and new about me—an inherently human response—and so I got smacked with the label religious.
That term made me cringe. The word didn’t do justice to all that had happened within me, and it carried such a negative connotation. But we don’t get to choose our labels.
In response, I implemented yet another typical human tendency: I tried to dissociate from this label with the explanation that I wasn’t striving for God in religion; I was pursuing God in relationship. Defensively, I gave religion the cold shoulder so I could fully embrace the softer side we Christians call relationship.
So for years I have tried to distance myself from religion out of concern that I would be seen as some automaton going through preprogrammed motions of service.
My concern was valid, for the heart brought to life in Christ Jesus will naturally seek Him in Christian activity—such as regular devotion to the Word and serving His people and spending in fellowship at a church. And when you add up these devotional, serving, and fellowship activities, most people get the same sum: religion.
Recently, however, I’ve found a missing component to this equation. It’s the hidden fuel of such religious activity.
This component has me rethinking my dissociation with religion.
Stop back later this week to read how this missing component has changed my assessment of religion as it relates to knowing God. Because of it, I don’t mind that label quite so much anymore.