A Real Religion
In our present day, they are known as “knock offs”. Things and items that closely resemble that which they replicate. The look like the real thing, feel like the real thing, and sound like the real thing. To the casual observer, they are just as valuable as the original. For most, it is hard to tell a knock off from an original. In fact, knock offs seem similar to the original in every way possible; even in the way that they function. That is until there comes a time when the situation requires something that can only be provided by the real thing. It is frustrating to find yourself in a space and place where you are in need of the real thing and all you are left with to help you get by and get over is a knock off.
I contend that knock offs are not only found in the public sphere but also in the personal spaces of our lives. Even with regard to our faith & spirituality, it is a regretful reality that there are so many of us that cling closely to comprehension of God that we believe to be authentic when in truth all we have is a ‘knock off’. And it often isn’t until we find ourselves left to deal with the downside of life, that we realize the faith we’ve allowed to hold us up has given way because it was nothing more than a knock off.
Knock off religion, knock off spirituality, can be found all around us. From preachers more concerned with profits than people to Christians more concerned with how they look than how they live. From churches with crosses on the inside that don’t allow that cross to influence what they do on the outside to ministries more consumed with emotionalism than evangelism. From making unconditional love optional to embracing doctrine that seemingly has an answer for everything but doesn’t allow room for any questions.
It is these misrepresentations of Christ, these misrepresentations of what it means to be a Christian, that have led to so many to choosing walk away from our faith; defecting from a faith they believe has defaulted on them first.
In a world full of issues that are becoming more and more real for people, there is a need for a real sense of spirituality. A real religion that offers comfort in moments crying and helps one to stand when they feel as if they are sinking. A real religion that not only makes me feel better but also prompts me to live better. There are persons in this present age that are looking for more than performance, piety and pageantry to define their faith. There is a real need for a base of faith in which the Spirit of the Lord manifests, walks, talks, guides, and renews daily. And, unless, we, as the modern Church, move past the quick fix, superficial spirituality that has become prevalent in much of our present Christian culture, we will be unwitting contributors in the great falling away the Bible speaks of in the 4th Chapter of 1 Timothy.
In a time where those whom we share humanity with look to navigate the winding ways of life, we need to be able to offer the world a real religion. A religion that puts a greater emphasis on relationship than it does ritual. A religion that values compassion more than it does correction & teaching more than it does tradition. A faith secure enough to stand in the face of other religions and opt to have dialogue with them instead of demonize them. In order to for the Gospel to spread as God would have it to, in order for the influence of Jesus Christ to change the world (and those in it), we must be willing to adjust what we have made normative. In a time where hope is both needed and in short supply, Christians must present a Christianity that is not only pure and prophetic but also progressive; a ministry that looks, lives, and loves like God. We, as believers, must not ask the world to accept a knock off brand of belief. Christians must be willing and able to offer the world a real religion.