All too often Christianity is cheapened to the point that it becomes a religion of rules in which the do’s and don’ts (especially the don’ts) govern our lives. In an effort to please God by keeping ourselves separate from the world (2 Cor 6:17), we live lives that are less than attractive to those who don’t know Jesus. Anything that might be “fun” in the world’s eyes is viewed with suspicion by those motivated by religion. (“Don’t drink, smoke or chew or date girls that do.”) When our spiritual walk is governed by obligation and duty and law (this is what I ought to do, this is how good Christians behave) it leads to a lifeless religion based on rules and regulations.
Most people in the West were brought up in a shame-based religion. “People are dying and going to hell. Therefore you should preach the Gospel.” Although it sounds spiritual, the reasoning is guilt-based. It implies, “Christ died for your sins and you are doing so little for him. You are guilty. You ought to be doing more.” It attempts to shame us into different behavior.
The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives life! Non-religious Christianity is governed by the life of the Spirit within. As we seek to live close to Jesus, we find ourselves doing what the Scriptures indicate is pleasing to him. Notorious sinners loved to hang around Jesus (Luke 15:1), who was accused of being a glutton and “winebibber.”
The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ (Luke 7:34)
Jesus enjoyed life. And his life won those around him.
What motivates us is important. The grace and love of Jesus operating inside us cause us to want to do what legalism says we ought to do.
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11 replies on “Non-religious Christianity”
Great post! Love the last line.
Yes, I’ve been thinking recently we don’t need to motivate ourselves or others to speak more about Jesus, but to love people more.
Isn’t that the truth!
This is a most beautiful post..thank you
Thanks for the encouragement, Kenneth
Totally agree. Well said. I would add a few words at the end: “But not everything legalism might demand that we do.”
Legalism has a way of getting extreme and at times silly. And it can easily become an addiction for some.
Again, good word.
Very true. Legalism is like the Pharisees who had laws to govern the minutiae of life. Christianity was called the Way, a life meant to be lived from the Source within.
Sometimes we twist ourselves into spiritual pretzels to live up to some standard that Scripture never requires of us; It’s the basis of all “religion.” Someone I read once described religion as man reaching up to God and Christianity as God reaching down to man. It’s too bed many who read it fail to heed its message.
Tom, this is a good definition of religion. So much depends on our view of God. Is he, like a vindictive judge, waiting for us to step outside the lines so he can punish us, or is he a loving Father who delights in his kids.
How sad that for many, their Christian life is merely a set of rules to be obeyed.
The calling of Matthew Levi should be a Gospel example of how Jesus views everyone. Paraphrased by yours truly, ” Hey Matt I see you currently taxing your fellow Jews for personal gain and yes I am quite aware of your current sinful nature, that being said, i think you have what it takes to be ONE of my personal disciples. FOLLOW ME.” What did this sinful man do when he was encountered by walking love, he followed Christ and left the life he knew behind him. When this story no longer tugs at my heart and when i become callous towards soon-to be believers, i remember where i was when the love of Christ came furiously after me. Beloved let us not forget His benefits! Speaking to myself.
Love the paraphrase and totally agree