Bad Religion!

Bad Religion!

Posted on 21. Oct, 2009 by in Challenging Status Quo

Returning from my recent ministry trip to Pennsylvania, I saw a man at the airport wearing an interesting t-shirt. Let me describe it: It was the typical “do not sign;” you know the red circle with the diagonal line thru it. In the middle of this circle and behind the red hash line was a cross. The caption underneath was “Bad Religion.” I sooo badly wanted to go and ask him what he meant. I assume his attitude was that Christianity was a bad religion. Unfortunately it was boarding time and I could not get to him. But I did begin to think about the shirt.

Today I looked up the word “religion” and its origin. Merriam Webster Online as one definition as: “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.”

The word religion has much controversy regarding its etymology. One view (not the only) is that the word relates to a repetition of behavior such as reading or prayer, over and over, in the context of devotion. Another is that it is derived from. re-ligåre: “to bind back”: > religiø “a ‘bond’ between man and the gods (God)” (lig- ‘bind’).

Now I am not an expert here, but think l see something that has been lost in the translation so to speak. We should have a link and communication with God – it is called being born again. We should have regular devotion of our time with Him; I like spending time with the ones I love. Yet it seems religion has become organized and focused more on the “repetitive acts” to ensure our “bond” that has actually let to a bondage! Instead of something that was made for freedom and joy, it has become legalistic and harsh. The obedience to these acts determines my level of association with you. If you do not subscribe to my “religious views” how can I truly relate to you?

This was the issue of the Pharisees. They had taken the Law of Moses, which was intended to reveal man’s need of God and added their traditions to it. Their additions became a weight of legalism that created a judgmental system, creating an exclusive “religious” class system. Those who repetitively did the right actions were considered more “holy” than those who did not. Instead of being leaders to show the people the need for God, they became the standards of perfection within themselves. So I guess it was “bad religion.”

The challenge today is that much of organized Christianity is the same way. Depending upon our “flavor” of Christianity, we have our “institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” These establish (in our system) who is “spiritually” right with God and result in a “religious” class system. The more obedient I am the more spiritual I am perceived, therefore, more opportunities to move up the organizational ladder are presented. So – maybe “Bad Religion.”

The answer: back to the original intent. We should have such an intense bond of love to God that we willing (based on love) spend regular time with Him. That I change my lifestyle based on what He wants for me. That I understand, we are all on a journey of discovery: of Him and what is in me and we are not all at the same place. It is in this type of relationship that we will find a bond of freedom – yes bond. Because of His intense love and acceptance, I will willingly connect myself to Him. Now – Good Religion!

Or maybe the t-shirt was just the name of a rock group?

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