What are you into?

I already posted about this over on emergent Waco, but I want to go further here.

In a conversation with one of our youth here, I was told that he wasn’t “into religion.”

I pondered what all to do with that statement, and answered that sometimes I didn’t think I was all that into religion either.

His response, when I asked what he meant, was that he used to go to church, when he was little, but then someone told him he didn’t have to go anymore, and he quit going.

Is that what not being “into religion” means?  I can’t tell you how many people have told me they feel like they can worship God as well on the golf course or lake as in church (not that they do; just that they can).   So, perhaps, all those people just aren’t really “into religion” either?

I don’t mind telling you, I’m still a bit mixed on it all myself.  One of the few specifically memorable experiences I had at seminary was reading Bonhoeffer’s writings about “religionless Christianity.”  Those words wedged into me in a way that I’ve not since been able to shake.  They haunt me – more some times than others.

The only place that religion is defined in the Bible, James 1:27, says “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

I don’t think that is what anyone means who says they aren’t “into religion.”

I think what they usually mean is that they aren’t into church.

There are aspects of church I’m not into, either.  When church is about maintaining a decaying bureaucracy, I’m not into it.  When church is about going through some supposedly spiritual motions because “we’ve always done it that way,” I’m not into it. When church is getting more people into a social club, I’m not into it.  When church is about offering people a hypothetical “get out of hell free card,” I’m not into it.

When church is about self-congratulatory stands against the next thing youth culture has adopted, I’m not into it.  When church is about fine-tuning definitions of who’s in and who’s out, I’m not into it. When church is about how many pipes an organ has or how great the lead guitarist is, I’m not into it.

On the other hand, God is not worshiped and cannot be worshiped, the same way on the golf course or lake as in the church. I suppose one can offer help and hope to widows and orphans from the green or a boat, but to keep oneself unstained by the world – ah, there… you’re going to need help.

We followers of Christ, we people of God need each other. We absolutely cannot make it on our own.  For this, if for no other reason, we need the church; we need religion.

Where the church (or religion) isn’t about the people of God caring for widows and orphans and helping one another remain unstained by the world, it really isn’t being the church. Where the church (or religion) is truly living as the Body of Christ, mutually supporting, admonishing, edifying, correcting, encouraging, challenging to remain unstained, that’s what I’m into.

What are you into?

That’s what I’m into.

4 thoughts on “What are you into?

  1. I’m into the idea that finding God’s plan for my life is what I need to be doing.
    I’m into the fact that the plan seems to change as I figure out parts of it. Not like God is tricking me, but more like you don’t see the whole picture if you watch the artist do His work.
    I’m into believing that it’s the following itself and not some destination that is important.
    I’m into doubting that I believe this stuff at all sometimes.
    I’m into believing that the doubts make the answers seem more real.

    I sure hope God is into all that, too.

    But I guess I know, that for me at least, He’s gotta be.

  2. Well, I like to turn that phrase on its head just a bit. All people are equally religious. Religion isn’t something you can ‘opt out of.’ Bertrand Russell is as equally religious as Billy Graham, who is as religious as Osama bin Laden who is as religious as Joel Osteen. Religion is any set of core beliefs out of which we live and act (my working defintion). Primary among all human belief is a belief about God. We all have to answer the God question. We all either believe there is a God, or we don’t. And even if we are undecided per conversation, we are live our lives one way or another. We might even vacilate between the two. That doesn’t make us more or less religious. If you are human you are religious. Instead of living in an increasingly secular world (a religion in and of iteself) I believe we are in an increasingly religious world. Look at the world of politics today and how central a role religion and faith plays. 50 years ago you harldy dared to talk about religion in politics.
    I would have engaged the guy by telling him just how into religion he is and didn’t know it. Does he ever look at the sky and enjoy a sunny day. Religous. What are the things that he holds dear? Religious. As humans I think we try to deny the entire concept of religion so that we can fully pretend to be our own gods. We know we are guilty of pride and self-centeredness, so instead of talking religion, we deny its existence. A clever ploy on our part, but it fails.

  3. “We followers of Christ, we people of God need each other. We absolutely cannot make it on our own. For this, if for no other reason, we need the church; we need religion.”

    I might clarify this with: “(at least ‘religion’ as James defined it)”…

    The further I get on my journey, the less I care for the word “religion” (at least how and to what it gets applied). The word “Christian” has considerable baggage as well (quote Rob Bell: “‘Christian is a great noun but a terrible adjective”).

    In many ways, I don’t really want to be associated with those who would be considered “into religion”, because they taint the word (a la “gay”).

    From that standpoint, I guess I’m more into righteousness than religion. More into grace than judgment. More into community than club.

  4. Hmmm. Ryan contends we’re all religious, yet Neil, Rob Bell, and I are all more likely to say we aren’t necessarily into religion.

    Perhaps religion is dangerous when it becomes a noun rather than an adjective. What do you think?

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