The Church as been obsessed with the concept that “Christianity is not a religion it is a relationship.” And although I understand the theological understanding of that phrase I still see it as bad bumper sticker theology. I think the widespread acceptance of this theology highlights a growing problem in the church. Namely, the growing inward focus rather than an outward focus. The modern Church is completely absorbed with the individual rather than the community.
Religion is not an entire bad thing. In fact I will argue it is a good thing. Religion is not something believers should run from or shrink away from. Instead it should be embraced in its true form. James 1:27 tells us, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” So if religion is doing its job correctly it is a positive force on society and culture.
However, I can see why many modern believers have shrunk away from the idea of being a part of an organized religion. Because the Christian religion has failed to impact society and culture in a positive way by caring for the orphan, the widow and the poor… not to mention keeping oneself unpolluted from the evils of this world. Religion often looks like the pollutant not the filter. So many followers of Jesus detach from “religion” in the expression that they just have a relationship, and thus breaking the continuity between faith and action in many cases.
I understand that I am speaking here in broad generalities. I know the church in many local circumstances has taken great responsibility to tend to the orphan and widow, poor and oppressed. However, this is not what the church is known for to most.
I am both both proud and ashamed to be apart of the Christian religion. I am first proud because true Christianity is founded on the scriptures that triumph the advocacy of the poor and oppressed. Within a true Christian community the least of these are protected and defended against the wicked and the greedy. Yet, at the same time I am also ashamed to be a Christian because for so long Christians have failed to live out the full power and words or our savior Jesus Christ. In fact it has been so long since the Christian Community has lived out the redeeming principles of the Kingdom of God that it looks to most as if Christianity could and never will be effective or worth while. Religion because of its followers has been labeled ineffective, and even a force of evil rather than good, just look at the atrocity of the crusades.
As true followers of Jesus we need to take back the religion founded on the words of our savior. We have the ability to show the world what true religion looks like and put that thirst back in our society for Christianity. As Christians we need to get more focus of serving people and ministering to the marginalized in our society instead of building building or announcing church programs. We need to find our roots… Christians were the outcasts, and still are in some places in world, yet here in America we act the were high-society, and nobody wants us around.