If You’ve Been Burned By Religion

038Some of you have been pretty beat up by religion.

You went to church, but church was mostly rules. Mostly a list of do’s and dont’s and acceptance was based on how well you were performing. Somehow for the life of you, you never could perform well enough.

Some of you have been pretty disappointed by Christians down at the church house.

Maybe church was just a thing to do on Sunday. You wear these clothes that look nice. You smile at folks. You stare at the guy in front doing all the talking. You sing some songs. You act like you’re all fine. And then you walk out the door and nobody has a clue what sort of hell you just came from.

Some of you have become a bit skeptical. Religion is for those who need to self-medicate, perhaps. It’s an opiate for those who can’t deal with the pain and injustice of the world. But, it’s not for you. Not anymore.

I’m not here to talk to you about religion. But, since you came, may I talk to you about Jesus?


Jesus was really good at ticking off the religious folks of his day. For one thing, He arrived on the scene and claimed to be God’s Son. Then He started talking about a certain Kingdom. And as if that wasn’t ludicrous enough, He opened up the Kingdom to anyone who saw their need for Him.

No matter where they had come from. No matter what they’d done. People like mass murderers, drug lords, pornographers and prostitutes. Terrorists, perverts, pimps, drunkards–the whole shebang. And those religious folks, they ripped Him to shreds for that. Why the heck would He give a rip about sinners like these? They hadn’t been good enough! Why would He hang out with them? Why sit at their supper table?

He did those things because this is the heart of God. Anyone can be blessed in the Kingdom of the heavens. There is a forgiveness that knows no limits. This isn’t good news for the righteous hoity-toities. This is only good news for the screw-ups.

“And such were some of you, but you were cleansed, made holy and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:10)

Christianity was never meant to be a religion in which we must strive and strain and reach out as best we can to somehow touch God. It was always meant to be a relationship. A friendship with our Creator, made possible because the One who spoke the cosmos into existence reached out and touched us.

But, He didn’t just reach out and touch us. He scooped us up and drew us in with nail-scarred hands.


And what was the means that God used to get to us? He took a tree and made a bridge. The cross is what God walked across. That’s Christianity, friends. God making a way to bring all the lost sons and daughters back to Him. There are these moments when we can almost feel it…the way He puts His hand behind our heads and gently presses us in. Close enough to hear the beating of His heart–the thrumming out of His never-stopping love.

Friend, it’s okay if you never could perform well enough. And I’m sorry, really sorry about all those times you went looking for community and hope and a deep sense of belonging, and all you found was more emptiness.

I want you to hear me, though. So much of life is about just showing up.

This is what I do. I keep getting up and showing up and I keep finding that I’m not alone here. There’s a Great I AM, who actually is exactly what I’ve been needing.

I have these hopes for you, that you’ll comprehend the heart of Jesus. Don’t waste these days under the sun on some holiday away from Him. No, run toward Him like a child running toward the Light. He is good. Everything beautiful and desirable and noble and pure. The leaves are turning now, and we can turn too.

Over and over again, we turn toward the One who tenderly turns His shining face toward us.

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

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