Sunday, February 8, 2009

Religion is a Journey

I do not post a lot on this blog about religion, because if there are two ways to turn people off it is religion and politics. 
OK, that is not the real reason. 
Mostly, I do not post a lot about it, because I think of it as ones personal journey to and with Christ. It is no wonder then that I disagree with so many of my fellow Christian's methods relating to discipleship. Many are convinced that their way is the right way to follow Christ and the lines are black and white with no gray. Of course my openness to many ways is just as much a thought on the "right" way as their narrowness, so I am equally guilty.

In my Sunday school class, we have been discussing the foundations of the Christain Church (Disciples of Christ), and I have learned a lot about Disciples history and the history of other churches, and one thing remains perplexing to me-- the idea of a personal journey (or relationship) with Christ versus a dictated relationship. In other words, if you are in a different place in your journey than I am, what could possible be considered right or wrong? Or if Scripture has a gray or blank spot, one denomination speaks for that hole, while others are silent and each person must decide. 
Yes, if one is stealing from your neighbor and sleeping with your friend's spouse, that is wrong. 
But who is to say my relationship with Christ is wrong or not good enough? Or that one person's teachings or one's journey is superficial? 
The superficial of one might be the deep spiritual journey of others.  We each are inspired to learn more, absorb more, by a variety of people, methods and statements. Some choose Beth Moore. Others John Piper. Or maybe Max Lucado. Some were probably inspired to dig deeper by the DaVinci Code. 
If I commit myself to Him, then who is to say that where I am, what I read, or my journey is wrong? How is anyone's wrong? We each have been drawn to Him for different reasons and moved to action by a different series of events.  

Are we stuck in a world of Comparison Christianity? It seems to me that we each have a "unique calling," but in dictating that there is one right way, are we destroying the uniqueness of our relationship with Christ? I have Christian friends on all ends of the spectrum from what I and others would define as liberal to conservative Christian behavior and belief.  I do not believe any of them are any better or worse Christians than the other, nor is it my place to judge their journey. Is it possible we are all right?

No matter how hard I pray or be still, this is one topic I am waiting for an answer on from Him, but I realize I might never know Who Is Right?

Oh, and I am now devoting Sunday posting to the thoughts accompanying my journey. I hope you enjoy this ride too. If not, skip on Sundays. :)


Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. I am an atheist for many reasons, but one of them is the very strict right/wrong, good/evil that many Christians (or people of other religions) profess.

Regardless of your religion, I think it is important to be open-minded and it looks like you understand that. Unfortunately, too many people do not.

Anonymous said...

Hi Maria, Ellie again here -

I can't wait to read your Sunday thoughts. I find people's views on religion very interesting. I have had my own journey, too.

You seem to be such a sensitive soul to your child and to the world around you. I think in all your efforts to do your best and have an open heart to God, you have already accomplished so much and taken bigger steps than some people ever will.

I guess I just view the world as all of us being God's children, and not all people know they are or don't accept that they are...some are more lost than others, but they are still God's children. I am Christian, Catholic to be exact, but I have never been taught, nor do I believe that non-Christians or non-Catholic Christians go to hell.

A relationship with God and/or a life of faith is a choice and a process, no matter what the religion. I believe that no human can "convert" anyone, that only God can change hearts. It is an unnecessary burden to try to convert or judge others.

Since you linked to your previous post about religion, I thought I'd add that while I view Jesus as the gate to heaven, I also view God's grace as much wider than we all know. As humans, I think we are bound by prayers, baptism, whatever it is that we believe will save us. God is not limited by those means. While Jesus may be the reason we can all go to heaven, the way he opens that gate may be surprising to our human ways. I have peace thinking that God works through many different times and cultures than American Christianity, and that all nations will see salvation. I believe people just need to live what they know in their conscience and heart to be correct. The more you know or believe, the more you are accountable for, but the beautiful part is that the more grace is available to you too.

All that to say - enjoy your journey, have peace, and be blessed.


Maria said...

Annie-- One of the things that draws me to the church I attend (Christian Church Disciples of Christ) is the openness-- the foundational belief in the Grace of God and his love of ALL people.

Ellie-- Welcome back. I grew up in the Catholic Church, and I am quite certain that my Grandma still believes I am going to hell for no longer practicing as Catholics do. I remember the fight that happened when my uncle married a non-Catholic (Methodist) woman. Sacraments are/were withheld from those who marry outside the faith. I have been thinking and praying about what I should write about next week, but I think I have my answer. How I got to where I am... coming soon to a blog near you. ha ha!

Team Ellis said...

Hey Maria,

I really do appreciate everything you write and your openness with lifes experiences, your opinions, and stances on life in general. On this particular topic, my only suggestion is to not compromise as it relates to your relationship with Christ and what you have learned from the Bible. When we replace rigid beliefs with our own preferences and our own distorted interpretations, it is a compromise in the true sense of the word. This is because preferences offer you the ability to live life from a middle ground, but not from a complete place of balance. Often times, the enemy plays off the fact that we are eager to learn more about other religions and sometimes that can plant seeds of doubt or uncertainty and can interfere with our relationship with God and can put stunt in our walk with Him. I love to hear of others views and their justifications behind it, but regardless to who it would offend, i speak of Gods grace and love, but i make sure my words are seasoned so i wont come across as so many other ruthless Christians (im sure you know a few of them, we all do) But anyway, at the end of the day, you are held accountable for what you do know. Thanks again for posting and remember, God is not about religion, its about RELATIONSHIPS!

Bethany said...

I didn't see you in church today...I don't think we even go to the same church however you just posted what was out Pastor Preached today. CRAZY! My relationship with Christ and the Church has changed a ton in the past few years. All for the better in my opinion! I love that it is always growing. I am also Catholic, but do not attend a Catholic Church, I still fell very strongly about my Catholic beliefs, however we have a Church that is wonderful for our family (First Presbyterian in Tulsa).

Maria said...

Indirectly, my pastor preached on it too. His sermon was on "I am a friend of God." AMAZING. Our church is Yale Avenue Christian, so I am sure you didn't see me. :)

Angel said...

You are right, I enjoyed your post. It is not about religion it is about a relationship and that relationship like any other is not out in the open for any one else to judge on. I have been a Christian for many years and i have learned one important thing, those that feel they have to judge usually are ones who feel less secure in their own relationship.
So I just pray for them.
I do not do a lot of Christian things on my Blog not becasue I am afraid of what people will say, if it comes up or He puts one on my hear I will write it, regardless of what anyone thinks. But I have not beenlead to yet.
I am looking forward to your sunday morning posts and having a piece of your mind before I go to Church.
I am an Independant Baptist who believes there are no denonmanations in Heaven and the ground around the level.

~ A Moxie Mom said...

I am really looking forward to Sundays!! Thank you.

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