Some Market Research and Personal Evaluation…
I posted on a discussion forum this week, asking people what they would give up for Lent. A couple people responded back that they haven’t thought about those terms because religion is not a part of their life….faith is.
I was also asked if I planned on giving up anything. I have cut a lot of things out of my diet that thus far, I don’t feel the need to give up anything more food-wise. In addition, I feel that psychologically depriving myself is worse because I run the risk of binging later. Although, I should work on portion control more adequately, especially later at night, since I have a tendency to eat more than I need to. Thus, for Lent, I should probably give up “eating as often or as much as I do. ”
Thoughts About Faith vs. Religion
I thought about what these people meant when they said they valued faith over religion as well as what that would look like in my life. I knew that the people who responded sought a relationship with Christ but maybe did not really want to seek a man-made avenue that might be more of a substitute for our relationship with God and how we display it.
For example, let’s say someone gave up chocolate for Lent, which is very challenging for them because chocolate is a natural outlet for stress relief. Instead of realizing that giving up chocolate meant they would learn to control their reaction to stressful events by reading Scripture, having a conversation with God, and praying, this person feels that not having chocolate for 40 days has increased his personal holiness value. Then, it might be all together better for the person have kept eating chocolate during Lent if this weakness enabled him to see his need for God and God’s grace in his quest toward becoming more righteous.
4 Things to Help Us Follow Faith Instead of Religion This Season
1. Think about the things that bother us throughout the day. Ask ourselves if these are worries over eternal things or earthly things.
One thing that really bothers me is when I lose things. I automatically react to try to find what I lost. In addition to remembering to imprint things in my brain when I set them down, I have worked on being calm about them by telling myself that these are not concerns for heaven.
This is important to think about since a lot of religious events seems to be about doing things right now to “maintain salvation” instead of preparing our mind for the future of Christ’s coming.
2. Evaluate whether your new habits are helping you feel more dependent on God or more distant from him.
A lot of times, Christians struggle because they don’t realize that our righteousness with God is not just about what we do in our lives, but what we allow God to help us with or intercede for us in our lives. The whole point of Jesus dying on the cross for us is because we couldn’t save ourselves from our sins alone through what we did because we fall short.
3. Ask yourself: are you making comparisons with others during any “religious process?”
In the Bible, the Pharisees often prided themselves on appearing more holy than others. This is seen in Matthew 23, where Jesus talks about how they pride themselves on wearing Scripture on their foreheads and arms to show everyone, “Hey, look at how I am setting the initiative? I can teach you something!”
Jesus goes further to say in Matthew 23:10, “None of you should be called the leader. The Messiah is your only leader.”
Again, your faith should not be viewed as the world views an extracurricular activity, something to be displayed on a resume to denote self-accomplishments so you get picked.
(Remember that your resume is not required for an entry level in God’s Kingdom, but your faith in Jesus Christ’s redeeming work is. Plus, unlike a company hiring employees and interns, Jesus can take as many people as He wants. He already paid the one-time cost.)
4. Be okay with being a beginner, even if you have been faithful for years.
One of my percussion instructors once said that in order to learn a new instrument or music skill set correctly, you have to be willing to be a beginner. I would go further to argue that even if you have been reading the Bible for over 10 years, you need to be willing to be okay with “starting from scratch” with a book you have studied 3 times previously. That openness will help you grow. In Synergy class, we call it: hitting the Restart button.
Speaking of restarting, here is an article from Granada Hills Church in LA about restarting a dead church.
Feel free to keep worshipping with us at Inbound Church <–Click!