I’ve decided that I want to be religious. I’m tired of telling people I’m not religious. Maybe it was trendy to tell people that I wasn’t religious, even though I was and am. Was I afraid of what they’d say? Probably, but I’m more mature now. When people would say they didn’t like organized religion, I would ask them if they preferred disorganized religion instead. Okay, maybe I’m not as mature as I thought.
If you ask people why they don’t like religion or religious people they might tell you any number of things. They may say that religious people are intolerant, or indifferent, or exclusive. Maybe religious people are mean and/or hypocritical. They may even say that religious people are a combination of all or some of those things. Any way you look at it, none of those reasons sound really unreasonable.
Let’s face it; religion is associated with some pretty dark times in our world’s history. Not the least of which involves killing people of different religious beliefs in the name of their religion. I guess I’m partly justified in saying that I’m not that kind of religious.
But the questions looms; why would I want to start saying that I am religious? Religion, in the best sense of the word, is about reconnecting with God. I know that people avoid religion, but those same people still want to be connected with God.
Besides, Jesus was religious. Jesus was a devout Jew. He obeyed the Law and celebrated all of the feasts. He was religious in the best sense of the word. All you have to do it look at the religious life of Jesus. It was anything but negative. It was a religion that looked into the heart of the person not the window dressing. The outcasts, the down and out, the least of these, the less thans, the prostitutes, criminals, traitors, diseased, lame, poor, weak, demeaned, despised, and others all found themselves befriended by Jesus, the devout and religious Jewish rabbi. He shared meals with them, healed them, encouraged them, and forgave them. Jesus even reached out and shared meals with the dreaded Pharisees. Yes, the religion of Jesus even loved the Pharisee.
Unlike the religion many rightfully reject, the religion of Jesus was full of life, hope, grace, mercy, peace, wholeness, love, and freedom. Jesus told everyone that by following and obeying him that they would be able to reconnect with God.
The religion of Jesus is a welcoming faith. It is an inclusive faith. Jesus welcomed sinners into a new life. Jesus wanted, and still wants, to set us free. He wants to set us free from all of those things that take life. He offered a life free from power of sin. He showed us that it could be done and empowered us to do it.
Here goes: “Hello, my name is David and I am a religious person.”