What is Religion?

What is my beef with religion? I am deeply connected to God and yet I can’t stand overly religious people, why is that? It has something to do with this, you don’t own God. No matter how far along you’ve come, however many things you’ve learned, you can’t corner the market on God.

Yes, it’s true that perhaps I can tell a story based upon my own struggles and it might benefit you, just as easily it might not. I don’t mind giving that stuff away for free, but I also don’t mind if you won’t hear it. At some point a person has to take seriously the words of God, and those words have always been all about not judging, loving instead and seeking the kingdom and the righteousness.

Right, you say, it is exactly that last thing I said, righteousness, that gives you the right to criticize others and shove your way down their throat. Really? Chances are this perception is an extension of the concept of exclusivity. You know, the idea that there is only one true religion and it is yours. Hmmmm, there is real trouble in that argument. It does not stand up to examination. Trick is, the examination doesn’t wipe out your religion either. You don’t need to have a crisis of faith simply because your way is not the only way. What you do need to do is ask yourself what, really, is God up to anyway? Isn’t He after saving humanity? Do you really think He is only going to save a few?

Perhaps it is the whole time thing that trips you up? If so, let me clue you in to something in the scriptures, the Judeo-Christian version, that might help. When the bible talks about fire usually you can replace the word fire with the word time. Yeah, that’s right, hell-fire isn’t burning punishment, it is being forced to try again and again until you get it right, this includes periods of total decadence or depravity seemingly lost in times of utter waste, if your judging soul demands that be your fate in your personal struggle with the law. The burning bush wasn’t a weird out of the blue symbol. It was a message intended to tell man that he was about to encounter the one who doesn’t change, the one whom time does not consume. It was a symbol for the Spirit of God. What’s the first thing the Spirit of God did in that appearance? That’s right, he told Moses to take his sandals off of his feet. Why did He do that? Check it out and you will see that He did that because the sandal is a symbol of judgment. This particular type of judgment was against others for not fulfilling duties they were obligated to do under the law, a law not given yet but which was active in the lives of the patriarchs up to this time, so very much part of the world then. Later God was to formalize the law in a very particular way, but the obligations Moses would have been influenced by were nonetheless still very much carried by him into his meeting with the burning bush.

But does God saying this strike down the law?  Of course not. What it does do, however, is point out to the exasperated few who get to this point that it is God that the law is pointing to and therefore it is He you need to seek and not the letters. The letters provide a nice static picture, but they need the Spirit in order to escape that static nature. You have to let go of judgment in order to make the leap. You have to stop being God and let God be God, that is the conviction of the law. The very conceit of escaping judgment is buried in it, but is very hard to see.

Uh, oh, this is where the chink in Christianity’s armor is revealed and thus the trouble with the overly religious. Christ did not come to sacrifice himself in order for grace to spread everywhere and blot out everybody’s sins so that we could all live eternal, but terribly disconnected lives. Being reconciled to God is not about disconnection. Christ came in order to release the Holy Spirit back into a world deprived of it. This is what the formal giving of the law symbolized, the arrival of the Holy Spirit. The static picture meant to point out the necessary. If something as important as the giving of the law came to point to something then maybe it is important in our struggles to pay some attention to it. Jesus came to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Yeah, time. All along Jesus has been asking you to take your sandals off of your feet, but you keep going on with your judgments and your insistence upon this or that strict adherence to one tenant or another. How many denominations are there? The Spirit of God is waiting for you. He is right there at the edge of the mountain that is religion, but He needs you to do something in order for His presence to fellowship with you. Neither the griping Israelites, nor any wandering animal was allowed to cross onto the mountain while Moses was up there talking to God and getting the law. You have got to be something different than what those things symbolized, a complainer or a law unto yourself. You have got to deal with your own propensity to judge.

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