A very common comment I hear from people who don’t believe in any sort of God is “I’m not religious”. My only response usually shocks them (if they know anything about me). I almost always say, “I’m not religious either”.
If someone knew any bit of my life, that I’m going to seminary, working part time at a church, planning to become a pastor, have led small groups for nearly two decades, pray all the time, blog on religious like topics regularly… how would they ever believe a statement that I am not religious.
The fact is, that it’s true. But you can’t believe that statement without understanding the difference between “being religious” and “having faith in Christ”.
What does it mean to be religious?
A big portion of being religious has to do with various rites and rituals. There are many people of faith that also are religious. Every polytheistic group has certain rituals they do in order to worship their various gods. The other monotheistic groups (Catholics, Jews and Muslims) each have a long list of their various rites and rituals they perform in a very religious way. And the media attention and focus on these groups paints all people of faith with a wide brush. But the truth is, there is a very significant difference between people like me who have a deep faith, and other people who are religious.
As a man of faith, I have a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior. I don’t worship Him in a manner so commonly seen on TV, with certain rituals. Instead, my form of worship is to show His love. That could be in song on a Sunday morning in an official worship service, or in song any other day of the week. It can be in serving at my church or at my home or anywhere else in my community.
To “worship” is to show worth or value to something or someone. Cheering for the Seahawks on a Sunday is a form of worship even. So if I want to show any worth to the sacrifice that Christ paid on the cross 2000 years ago, performing some sort of ritual does nothing of the sort.
Christ died as a punishment for every single one of mine and your sins. Not just the ones we’ve already committed, but every single sin we have yet to commit. Then after paying that very hefty fine, he rose again on the third day, conquering death. He ascended into Heaven and then sent the Spirit to live in us for eternity.
So for me to show ‘worth’ to what Christ did and who He is, that can never be accomplished by performing some rites or rituals. The ONLY way to show ascribe worth to Christ, is to pour out His love on others. So when I love others, I am worshiping Christ. When I serve others, I am serving Him.
If you are a ‘religious’ person, dig deep into your heart and determine if being less religious but having more faith, might be a better form of worship.
If the concept of being religious has pushed you away from coming to know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. You have hope. You CAN come to know Him and never have to be religious. You can discover His love in such a way that frees you from any bondage you currently have; fear, anxiety, low self esteem, addiction, stress, etc. These pressures may never go away, but His love will free you from their bondage.