Me minister For me as a minister – so easy to fall into the mindset of causing my relationship with God based on how good or bad I happen to be doing any given week. It’s inward focused and it’s religion. And it’s incredibly destructive.
Religious history (church history) – Religion has brought some good, but as a whole, destructive force.
Christianity – responsible for so much death torture in the name of Jesus.
- Muslim Extremists – 16.4 million – muslim violence
- 113.8 million died – Christian violence
People always want to point out the good. Yes there’s good but if you were to bite into an apple with a worm in it. Spoils the whole experience.
Trying to bring you back to the good “Yeah but look how juicy it is!” doesn’t help. That’s what Christians try to do.
Hospitals I was reading that religious institutions are the ones’s who invented hospitals. Beautiful thing. But in talking to someone who’s freaked out about how hostile we’ve been. They don’t care about the hospital thing.
Last couple hundred years that we’ve stopped killing people. Kinda new at the whole ‘not killing people’ thing.
Not just Christianity. It’s religion.
Where did we go wrong?
It’s the air I breathe.
You need relationship.
“Not me! I’m a rolling stone! I’m a lone wolf!” – No you’re not.
It’s like air. Try hating air.
There’s something in us that calls out for the divine.
Earliest graves. Neanderthal graves. – Buried their dead in fetal positions. Born into an afterlife.
Also, buried them with tools, weapons, food. “We know there’s something more here.”
We don’t know how to define it, defined in different cultures.
Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that is has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. (C.S. Lewis)
Even people who reject existence of God, still feel this strange fascination with connecting to something more than us.
In some awful, strange, paradoxical way, atheists tend to take religion more seriously than the religious. – Jonathon Miller
Even if they reject it, it still consumes them.
I’d argue that that’s put there by God, b/c we’re made in His image. We have a calling inside of us to reconnect with something bigger than ourselves.
That instinct can be manipulated and abused – Institutions, systems. Taps into something real. It can pull us into allegiance to something that can be very dark and very dirty.
So we want to not reject the whole, but find the pure version of it.
True Christianity is not a religion, not an allegiance to an institution, it’s a relationship with the person at the center.
Might look similar to people on the outside, but on the inside it’s completely different.
Everything we do in the Christian life, we should do because of CELEBRATION not SALVATION.
Pressures off. Don’t have to achieve anything. Reach the divine, the divine is here, with you.
Spit on me, kill me, I’ll die praying for your forgiveness.
Rises again, still acting in forgiveness. In ancient world – God who we kill and he rises from the dead, he’s seeking vengeance on the ones who killed him.
So for us the cross, not just necklace. It’s saying we can do our worst to God and he will still return loving us.
It’s called Grace.
Now not worried about judgement day, where I’ll be judged and maybe pass the test, that’s religion.
But us, judgement has already been passed and we’ve been declared righteous. Now.
Beautiful idea of rebirth. We’ve abused this idea. But it’s a fresh start. A chance to start again.
Not bound by who you were.
Paradox, we as Christians get together every week to celebrate the fact that we don’t have to get together every week. That’s not our religion. That’s not our stairway to heaven.We do it as an expression of celebration, not salvation.
Study the Bible Come together and study the bible and find out that we don’t HAVE to study the word, that’s not religion. Instead we read the word to be reminded of who we are and who Jesus is.
Sing Songs We sing songs of worship and praise to the God who says ‘you don’t have to sing songs of worship and praise to achieve something.’ This is an expression of our love and devotion.
Very different than the way of religion.
System: rules, rituals, routines, addicted to it.
Different people use the word religion differently.
Positive way: spiritually connecting
‘I had a religious experience’ ‘I’m a very religious person.’
They mean – genuine faith.
I want to hear peoples heart. Not their words. I don’t want to argue about words.
‘Don’t know know – series – ‘End of Religion?!’ – hear – heart.
In the bible – word religion, not super positive.
Very rarely. Jesus uses ‘faith’. – Trust, relational term.
Religion not relational word, so Jesus doesn’t really use it.
Only clearly ‘positive’ use, James (brother of Jesus) – tongue in cheek. “Only religion that God actually cares about is caring for the poor and don’t copy the way of the world.’ – Interesting b/c that’s NOT how most people would describe the religion of Christianity.
Religion is actually something that competes with faith.
Takes something relational and makes it institutional.
- It takes something beautiful like marriage, and turns it into something like a legal contract.
- It takes something beautiful like friendship and makes it into something like business associates.
Religion = Any system of belief or behavior that we use to achieve access to the ultimate.
Ultimate – usually God. Not always. Buddhism.
God, nirvana, paradise.
Mormons – become a God, rule – universe.
(Our Spirituality – worked out – relationship)
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
First oddity – “Let US make man in OUR image” – God speaks to himself in the plural.
Grammatically – weird – Speaks to himself as if he has community within him.
New Testament – God’s DNA, what he’s made of. “God Is Love.” 1 John 4:8 & 16
Love – relational concept. Means nothing outside of relationship.
By yourself on deserted island. Had to survive. Love wouldn’t be high on your list.
If you had love but no one to share it with – drive you crazy. – Draw a face on a volleyball. Wilson.
We’re created for relationship.
That’s why church, if done right, is so beautiful. Extended family.
Christian spirituality is completely relational.
Not: Spirituality that says go to a deserted island and meet with Jesus. It’s about coming into community and finding Jesus together.
Matthew 22 – Jesus
“What’s the greatest commandment?” “Love the Lord your God with everything you’ve got & love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Not what I asked.”
Jesus knew we’d separate ourselves.
The greatest commandment splits into two directions.
- Bi-directional spirituality.
- Love Up & Out.
In fact: we see later, when we treat others well, he receives that as honor himself.
1 John – Can’t say I love God and hate others. Liar.
Our spirituality is worked out in relationship.
Some of us come from great hurt and pain.
Hurt, abused, let down.
Hard – trust others & God.
Irony – antedote for a hurtful relationship isn’t NO relationship. It’s a HEALING relationship.
Thank you guys for taking the risk of being a part of this community.
(Male and Female)
Story goes on –
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
Male and Female – Masculine and Feminine – both somehow reflect God’s beauty.
In this community – appreciate that which is like us and that which is different than us. People who reflect God in a way that I might not.
When I enter into new relationship – I don’t want to judge and stereotype, I want to learn. To see the image of God in new and beautiful places.
Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
Our essence is breathed by God. We’re the only ones. We’re not divine, but our origin is divine.
We’re also dirt! – This is human. We are a beautiful combination of the DIRT and the DIVINE.
We’re very earthy – make a lot mistakes, mess up in huge ways. “I’m never gonna do that again!” Next day, we do it again.
Who’s the real you? The dirt or the divine? BOTH.
To be human is to have this beautiful wisdom, and this brokenness that struggles to follow through.
Keep in mind: We’re the only part of creation that comes to life because of the breath of God.
‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:28)
God is the ‘atmosphere’ that our spirits were designed to live in.
Relationship w/Him is what made us come alive.
So much beauty, also has a weakness, if someone wanted to exploit it.
We need to relationship, that’s beautiful, but it’s also our weakness.
If we could be made to believe that God was far away, we’d begin to experience separation anxiety.
We’d start to act out of fear and not love.
Now the serpent was more crafty… (Genesis 3:1)
Crafty. Interesting word. Could have said ‘pure evil’ ‘wicked’ ‘lying’.
Craftiness – ability to nudge you in the right direction to get what I want.
Same word is translated – ‘Wisdom’.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? ” (Genesis 3:1)
He asks a question about God. – Eve answers correctly.
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, (Genesis 3:2)
but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” (Genesis 3:3)
Goes a little further than God did. – added the last part about touching it. The beginning of Religious tradition. Adding a little bit. And you can imagine: generation and generation of good hearted people just wanting to add a little bit. Before you know it, mountain of rules to keep in your head in order to fit in to a religious community.
First time – conversation – ‘about’ God – as if God’s not there.
Where previously we’ve seen conversations that include God because he’s always there.
Even in asking a question about God and implying that he’s not here, the serpent is adding some space between God and Eve.
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. (Genesis 3:4)
“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
“You’ll be like God” – so ironic. Because they were already made like God.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6)
(Environment for Sin)
So here we have not only the first sin, but the first environment that produces sin. The feeling that God is far away.
We’re designed to live in His environment. When we feel like that’s not true, we freak out. And we start trying to bridge the gap.
To build a stairway to heaven.
I need to get closer to God. – God, you feel so far away.
This is the beginning of religion.
The feeling – God – far away – “do” something – close.
Co-Worker If you have a coworker who doesn’t know God, starts to become interested the first thing they’re going to start doing is trying to change their behavior to get close to him. And it’s our job as followers of Christ to remind people that God’s here.
(Studying a dead God)
Amazing scene in the bible. Sort of a religious scene. See people standing around, talking about God. ‘Why did he do this?’ ‘Why did he do that?’ – Like seminary.
I love studying scripture. And discussing. And debating.
After awhile, God becomes a topic. When you study something living in a scientific way, you usually have to kill it. – When we just sit around talking ‘about’ God, and we never pause to talk TO Him. We gone into religion. Hurts our relationship with him.
- Solution is not: DON’T STUDY! Just be stupid and love God.
- Solution: As I study and learn and grow, I trust the Holy Spirit to lead me in the right direction.
Scene ends with them eating from the wrong tree. Not of life but of judgement. Religion is born. Separation anxiety. We’ve got to do something to make it right.
That anxiety in us, get manipulated by Satan.
Throughout history – we’ve been setting up systems, institutions, rules – bridge that gap that can only be crossed by relationship.
One of the things that Jesus does for us.
He comes to earth to remind us that God is here.
One of the first things the angel says “you need to call Jesus Emmanual.” – God with us.
Jesus becomes the human form of the always true reality: God is here with us. Always.
God is here with us. Intimately involved in our reality. Trouble comes when we lose sight of that. There’s a disturbance. We start to feel like God is far away, and panic sets in. – This is religion. The feeling that God is far away, and we need to do something to get close to Him. But Jesus comes and reminds us that God is here. At this very moment, Emmanuel, God with us.
As an expression – faith — Communion -pass it out, take together.
Communion is something we’re instructed to do to remember Jesus. His sacrifice on the cross, and the new covenant that is ours through Christ.
God, as we eat this beard, we remember Jesus. We remember what He did, we remember the sacrifice He made. We remember His body that was broken for us all. And we remember the hope that we have because of Him. And we say thank you.
Let’s eat the bread.
God as we drink from this cup, we remember the covenant of peace that is ours because of Jesus. We find life in Jesus, we find meaning in Jesus. And Jesus receive you again today, in you we find our life and our peace. Thank You.
Let’s drink from the cup