At some point in everyone’s religious life, one has to make a choice. Do I double down on this religion thing and jump through more hoops, maybe up the ante on my dogma and belief system or do I just simply trust that God knows what he is doing and Jesus is who he says he is?
I heard William Paul Young, the author of The Shack, say recently that, “religion is easier than trust.”
So much of religion becomes personal image management. I may not really love God or neighbor but if I can attend this next Bible study, read that book, do that service project, have that theological stance I can project an image that will impress others. Jesus’ enemies were not the “unchurched,” do-wrongers around him; those people were especially fond of Jesus. No, Jesus’ enemies were the very religious people around him, the Pharisees, who thought they could put God in a box by their strict adherence to rules and practices and dogmas. Through their actions, they tried to manage God so they wouldn’t have to listen to him, follow him, or love others. This is a great temptation for all of us.
When you really think about it, nothing about playing church will get us ready “to receive God’s sufficiency in our lives.” Only trust will do that. When I trust God, I put myself second in the equation and him first. When I trust God, I can leave outcomes up to him. When I trust God, I can sit when it is time to sit and act when it is time to act and worship when it is time to worship. I have the freedom to live my life without adhering to the latest cultural church fad, without solving the latest theological controversy, and without meeting everyone’s expectations. Those are religious concerns that may hold some importance but do not bring life and definitely not an abundant one.
Jesus said that he was the “way, the truth, and the life.” He didn’t say he was the ritual, the ceremony, or the religious system.
Live in trust in Christ today. Leave your religious ways of manipulating God and others behind and find life, love, and a new way of being.