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Is Religion an Ugly Word?

I never wanted to be religious.

Oh, I have always loved Jesus. Even in those high school and college years when I would rather (and usually did) choose parties over church, I couldn’t deny the magnetic pull towards a God so tender and beautiful. I was raised Christian and by our Lord’s extravagant grace, I’ve never been able to deny Christ in my heart even when my lifestyle looked otherwise.

But I came of age at a time when Christian culture was beginning to bristle at the word “religion.” Suddenly it was an ugly term. We weren’t religious; we were spiritual, thank you very much. One of the worst critiques of a believer was that she be found too “legalistic.” After all, we were created for relationship and not for rules, right? Those whom Christ sets free are free indeed, right?

In the past decade (okay, longer) since I was a teenager I’ve seen a peculiar thing happen within Christianity. Yes this anti-religious sentiment is still going strong in many ways but I have also seen a dramatically marked increase in interest in orthodoxy, tradition, and liturgy in Protestants and Catholics alike. It seems more and more of us, myself included, are hungry for parameters to live out our faith in. It turns out, making Christianity whatever we want it to be isn’t as gratifying as we thought.

In the readings this week Moses and Jesus are essentially saying the same thing: the laws of God are in place for our own good, and they cannot be disregarded for a false sense of freedom. We are obligated not only to follow the Ten Commandments, but the teachings of the prophets and of Christ Himself in the Gospels. Heeding the structure that the Lord has given us not only results in a healthier relationship with Him, but also in healthier families and entire societies. It turns out that rules are not so bad after all.

Say a prayer today for our sisters seeking a home in organized religion so they can find healing and direction on the journey.

Shannon Evans is a Protestant missionary turned Catholic convert who lived to tell the tale. An adoptive and biological mom of three boys, she enjoys hosing mud off children, scrubbing sticky furniture, and rushing to the ER to have nails extracted from small intestines. She escapes the chaos by blogging instead of sleeping at We, A Great Parade.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Amy @ The Salt Stories
    March 22, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Wonderful reflection Shannon.

    I remember hearing a stirring sermon when I was 21 years old called religion vs the gospel. It’s sentiments were pure and beautiful, but I left asking the question why do these two things need to be opposed from one another? Can’t they function together in harmony, one serving the other? Thanks for your reminder today of the purpose and calm to religion.

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