Thursday, August 28, 2008
Religion Beat Me Up and Stole My Lunch Money
Again, I hate religion.
If religion were someone that I went to school with, he would be the bully who beat me up and took my lunch money. You always tried to avoid him, but no matter what you would do, there he would be, lurking just around the next corner. He would steal your joy and excitement about even going to school and if you were not careful, he would steal your girlfriend. This guy made everyone look stupid by belittling them and elevating himself. This happened to me you know. I was bullied a lot in middle school and High School. I couldn’t get this kind of guy out of my world. I felt powerless to defeat, what I thought at the time, the powerful. I felt weak and alone against this mighty foe, till one day I fought back and discovered that I was not the weak one, he was.
This is the same when dealing with religion. Religion is for the weak and insecure, you know, people with something to prove to themselves and to the world. A relationship with God on the other hand gives us our ultimate security and strength. A relationship with God is not about us at all, it’s about Him. Religion always steals and kills. A healthy relationship, on the other hand, always gives sacrificially; it gives life, protects life, nurtures life, and produces life.
I remember one time in High School when I fought back when a bully jumped me. This guy was all in my face and he was twice as big as me. It was in the middle of science class and everyone was watching. I could sit down, run, or cower, or I could take a stand against this bully. I took a stand. I grabbed the desk beside me and threw it at this guy. He was crazy angry, but I saw the respect in his eyes and he retreated. That’s when I noticed Buddy standing behind me with his fists clinched. Buddy was the biggest guy at our school, he must have been 20 and still in High School, I don’t know if he was that smart, but what I did know was Buddy had my back. Because he saw my stand, and he saw the fact that this bully would have killed me, he stood for me and with me. Buddy and I had an unspoken understanding, we had an unspoken relationship; we had a friendship.
Jesus addressed the religious leaders of His time a lot in the gospel of Matthew, especially in chapters 22-23. Jesus took a stand against religion, He stands for us, and with us, and He stands for us against religion and it’s bullying. He called the religious leaders on their bullying. He called them white washed tombs. What He meant by this was that they sought to make themselves look good by their outward appearances, but inside, they were dead, weak, insecure, selfish, scared. . . Jesus told these people not to keep burdening others by their many rules and regulations. He told them not to keep showing off and not to keep pushing others down and stepping on their heads to elevate themselves and to make themselves look more spiritual. Jesus refused to let the religious leaders beat up the average man or woman and steal their lunch money so that they would not be nourished. Jesus fought on our behalf, taking a stand so that we could know Him without all the hoop jumping. He made a relationship with God attainable for all of us without religion lurking around the next corner.
So how do we keep ourselves from being kicked around by the bully of religion? Paul gives this instruction to his readers who are following Christ in Colossians 2: 20-23:
“So, then, if with Christ you’ve put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? “Don’t touch this! Don’t taste that! Don’t go near this!” Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important. ”
Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Col 2:20-23
Fighting back against the bully . . . with backup,