- Teaching people about the ways of Jesus versus simply teaching them proper behaviors for Christians.
- Personal conviction versus religious legalism. Those could not be more different, but they are easily confused.
These are the types of fine-lines I try and make clear in my forthcoming book, Losing Your Religion. My goal in writing this was to help readers realize just how much we personally blur lines such as these so that we can move toward freedom from the chains of religious behaviors. The book is a journey of recognizing how we get off the path Jesus paved and recalibrating our ideas of Christianity so that we can get back on that path. I wrote it because I’m growing in concern that many people (like me at one point) have embraced a behavior management system much more than they have the life Jesus has invited us into, but they have mistaken the one for the other. And I think deep down we know something is off. If we are honest, we tend to be driven by guilt and shame and often by a fear of man. These are not Christian motivations, they are religious. But unraveling this in our minds is difficult to do in a way that doesn’t bash the Church, but instead humbly honors God. So it’s the latter I try to do in the book.
Well, the book doesn’t come out until November, but I thought I would list out a few distinctions that I unpack in the book between negative religion and Christianity. There are obviously a ton more, but maybe these can be a help to you today in some fashion or form:
- Religion is lived for God whereas Christianity is lived because of God. Religious ideas focus us on our actions, but the gospel is about our reactions to God’s actions.
- Religion is expressed in/through what we do. Christianity is expressed in/through why we do what we do.
- Religion emphasizes what we do whereas Christianity emphasizes what God has done and is doing through Jesus.
It’s one thing to list out these types of distinctions and agree with them. It’s another to actually sift through it in our own lives on practical and often intimate levels. This is the process that I hope the book brings people through.