Every once in awhile, it sort of gets to me that I'm a little bit stagnant in this world. That is, I'm still bouncing around and haven't really "landed" anywhere yet. I eventually laugh it off as my "starving artist" period because I love what I do, but every once in awhile....
And there's no shortage on theories about what I'm doing "wrong." (I use that word loosely. You will see why.)
Last week, someone shared yet another of those theories with me. "You know," I was told. "Your Facebook and your blog are probably what's hurting you." Uhm, my Facebook is private, or supposed to be in whatever definition passes for private in the ever-changing construct of Facebook. But what's so wrong with my blog?
"People don't want to deal with someone who is so 'religious.'"
I laughed immediately, and it wasn't entirely because she actually used air quotes. I laughed, looked right back at her and said, "Then that's not a problem. Because I'm not religious! ...I'm a Christian, and there's a difference."
She was half-right. I'll give her that. Nobody likes to deal with someone who is soooooo religious. Nobody hangs around with the person who's always harping on you to go to church more. The one who doesn't cuss and lets you hear about it if you so happen to utter a curse word. The one who quotes a Scripture for everything that might happen to happen in your life and has a platitude for your every concern but never really any answers. The one who won't join you in the bar for matters of "principle." The one ready and willing to remind you that Hell awaits. The one with their Bible stuffed so far up their...never mind. You know the kind of people I'm talking about. The "religious" ones.
As much as I am able, I try not to be like that. Although, if we're being honest, I think every new convert goes through a religious period. I'm not particularly proud of mine, but it is what it is.
I guess it goes back to what I was talking about a few days ago, and that is grace. Grace in words and grace in journey. The point of my life, and the point of my gift, and the purpose of what I do is not religion. It's faith. It's a man named Christ who walked a path through a messy world and got a little gritty with things because that's how it is here. A Man who wasn't interested in platitudes, but in answers. A Man who we know said more than a few words that ruffled more than a few feathers. A Man who would have joined you in the bar if that's where you wanted to talk to Him because He was rock solid in Himself and His Father and wasn't threatened by this world.
I want to be a person not threatened by my world. I want to be a writer who invites you to be the same. I labor to be the fullness of who I am, and to live that out loud. And to some, I guess that looks "religious." But to me, it doesn't. To me, and as days go by, I'm getting better at this, it looks like grace. It looks like relationship. It looks like invitation. It looks like mess and grit and confidence and courage.
Yes, I talk about God a lot. Every day, when I get the chance. Because I learn something new of Him every day. Not about Him, but of Him. That's the essence of Christianity. And it's about being made right. The essence of religion is to learn more about Him while knowing very little of Him. And when we use religion, I find that our focus is not on grace. It's not on journey. It's not on love. It's not on Christ. When we use religion, our focus becomes telling everyone everything they are doing wrong.
Including, of course, things like being offensively religious.
Which I'd have to argue is not my "problem." Because I just don't consider myself religious. I'm a Christian. And that's the difference.