I do not consider myself a religious person, in fact I will be so bold as to say that I absolutely despise religion and share in common many of the same criticisms that atheists often make regarding it. I consider religion to be about control, about conforming to a man-made set of dogma that breeds exclusion and guilt. Religion, to me, is more akin to a club. And like all clubs, it’s sole purpose is not to include others, but to exclude them. To create an “us and them” tribal mentality that it’s adherents use to pass judgement onto others, one has to go to the “right” church/synagogue/mosque etc…, one has to wear the “right” clothes (ironic because Jesus himself was a peasant and never wore clothing that one would deem to be “fancy” by any stretch of the imagination.The churches that have a strict dress code would actually turn Jesus away if He tried to attend their service), one has to pray the “right” way, congregate with the “right” people, vote the “right” way (or told not to vote), and above all, think the “right” way. It is only then, after destroying one’s individualism and ability to think for themselves, that one is finally accepted into the club. But if they make a mistake, or happen to disagree with the herd mentality, they are excommunicated from that very club and shunned. The “us and them” tribal mentality often turns into an “us vs them” tribal mentality, which is why Religion is often the cause for so many wars and conflicts (notice I said often, not always). To put in a rather crude and unmerciful manner, I consider religion to be the epitome of anti-intellectualism and free thought. Of course all of that being stated, I do support the Freedom of Religion entirely.
Upon reading the above you may be writing me off as an atheist, however doing so would be wrong because while I don’t consider myself religious, I do certainly consider myself to be spiritual. I do profess a God, the God of the Bible in fact, and I most certainly do believe in the divinity of Jesus and His sacrifice and resurrection. Perhaps it sounds a bit confusing, for how can one claim a belief in God, the Christian God at that, but not be religious? Simple. I have a personal bond with God, think of it as more of a spiritual relationship with the Grand Architect of the Universe, which is similar to the type of relationship that you would have with a friend or a parent, but in a much more passionate way as this relationship is with a King and His merciful and righteous Son. I talk to God, and He talks to me, not through a loud booming voice from the sky, but through my heart and conscience. I believe He talks to everybody this way, even those who happen to believe that He doesn’t exist. My salvation is not based on what I do, like religion espouses, but on Grace and Grace alone. There is no need for guilt or dogmatic principles, there is no need for fear, and ultimately there is no need to despise anyone who isn’t in my “club” because there is no club to begin with. There is simply God, the world, and my place in it, and my only “job” is to praise and serve Him in the ways that He calls me to.
There is freedom when one chooses to worship God instead of choosing to worship religion. To give a Biblical analogy, religion is Pharaoh and God is Moses leading the Exodus. Christ is the ultimate liberator. I suppose for some my answer will not be satisfactory, they will want to label a religion on me, it makes things easier, puts people in a box. I simply believe in loving others, not casting stones, and spreading the message of salvation to all mankind. So what is my religion then you ask? I believe Thomas Paine said it best: “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”
Jesus came not to create a religion, but a revolution.