Tuesday, 12 March 2013

A Lent of simplicity- Your religion

We just finished a bit of a touchy subject in my group the other night. We were looking at Philippians 3 at a section in scripture where Paul describes all the things which qualified him as someone who should have a great relationship with God. He came from all the right families, he had gone through all the right ceremonies, he belonged to the right sect, and even proved his commitment by persecuting the original Christians in Jerusalem. He had the checklist all done, everything was in order. But then Paul makes this incredible claim: 

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,"
(Philippians 3:7-8 NIV).

There are many things that we try to achieve for God. There are many things that we try to accomplish for God. These are all fine if done in a true Biblical fashion, but so often we take these religious practices, traditions and expectations and internally believe these things are earning us a closer relationship with God. Essentially, we're putting our faith in our religion instead of our God.

We fool ourselves constantly. We think that since we pray enough, and go to church every Sunday, involve ourselves in committees, join service projects and do our best to give the best music we can then that proves or earns us deeper relationship with God. For me, I try my hardest to read the Bible, and learn about it, and delve deeper into it, and sometimes I have to struggle with the thought that this should somehow make me good with God.

Can you can see how this discussion can get a little sticky? It's hard because all of these things I've listed above are great things, (except maybe committees). You should pray, you should get together with a church family, and you should know your Bible better. But how much are these things simply us checking off the list, or proving to ourselves that we're religious? How much faith are we putting in our religion rather than God?

It turns out that Paul's relationship with Jesus was very simple. He just tried to know Jesus. He understood that everything was worthless when put next to knowing Christ. The real challenge is, are you capable of that kind of simplicity? Are you capable of letting go of all the religion so that you can just know Jesus? Everything else becomes a tool, a learning aid towards this end.

The practical challenge I'm giving you this week is to spend some time with Jesus. Some significant time. Go for a walk, lock your bedroom door, turn the radio off on a long drive. Do whatever you can to be alone with Him. Try to not request things, try to pray in a different way you've never done before. Listen.

Find God in the simplicity.

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