Wednesday, 18 June 2008
by mr. pine
I remember having a conversation with a friend where he started by saying,"Let me ask you something - you're religious, right?"
I replied, "No, I'm a Christian."
Then he looked at me quizzically and restated, "Yeah, so you're religious..."
I then went on for about ten minutes about the subtle difference between "being religious" and "being a Christian" for me. In the end, he wasn't convinced and forgot what he was going to ask me anyway.
I know what nonreligious people mean when they call people "religious." They use that word because it has the least potential to offend. You can call a Christian, a Mormon, a Muslim, a worshipper of Odin, or a devotee of Beelzebub "religious" and cover your bases. But for me, it's the broadness of the definition and the connotation of the term that make it insufficient.
When you think of someone who is religious, you see things that they do: meditate, read some holy text, or attend some form of worship gathering. But this means that anyone doing these sorts of actions could be called religious. The connotation of "being religious" is that you are defined by these actions - not by what you believe in. Yes, actions are a natural outlet for your values, but at the same time, actions can be completely divorced from what is in your heart and soul.
I don't want that to be the extent of people's understanding of me. I don't want to be lumped in with that group because in many ways people act religious to actually avoid the true cost of following Christ. I think many Christians are satisfied with just being religious. It means that we can go through some motions and fool ourselves into thinking that our "Christianity quota" has been met. We can feel better about ourselves by pointing to how many things we do that look religious enough, and all the while not have it touch who we are at heart.
It's not about what we do. It's about who (and whose) we are. Once we realize that, the ironic thing is that it comes out in what we do.
So to my Christian friends... are you simply satisfied with "being religious?" If you are, it doesn't matter what you believe in. You're wasting your time. Being religious is preventing you from being a Christian.