[As written on 012912]
“What religion are you?”
This turns out to be a loaded question.
How would the first Christians have responded? That was before the term “Christian” existed.
How would Jesus (does Jesus) want you to respond?
Oh, so Christianity’s a religion?
In most cases, Christianity is a person’s religion…that is, for a person who isn’t really a Christian. Christianity is the religion of someone who doesn’t understand what Christianity really is. Of someone who makes Christianity into a religion.
Or you could say, more appropriately,
“I have no religion.” “I don’t follow a religion.” “I don’t believe in religion.”
As someone at work asked me,
“Are you religious?”
To which I confidently regurgitated the theologically-sophisticated answer I had been taught to believe:
Wow. I thought he was a Christian. I didn’t realize he’s an agnostic.
As I realized what he was probably thinking, all I could do is just stand there, stumped, unable to jump back on my train of thought and explain myself. I just passed up the perfect Gospel opportunity.
In an ideal situation, their question would be:
“What is your religion?”
In which case, the simple, yet theologically profound, answer is:
Most people aren’t theologically aware enough to even realize what Christianity actually is, so most people would think,
Okay, Jesus = Christianity, so Christianity is his religion.
…and be on to the next thing.
But hopefully there would be someone who would at that point question you further.
“You mean Christianity is your religion. A Muslim’s religion is Islam, not Muhammad.”
And then in that glorious, life-changing opportunity you fulfill the meaning of life, you obey the Great Commission, you plant the seed, you preach the Gospel to them in one sentence:
“Jesus didn’t start a religion; He personally took the place of religion.”
And if they question you further, you answer further.
It’s unclear exactly what the minimum is that a person must believe in order to be saved. The best example of salvation in the Bible is the thief on the cross in Luke 23, who, to my knowledge, is the only instance in the Bible of someone who is clearly, definitely saved. Of course the apostles were and all that, but I mean, the thief is the only person God Himself ever told “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” You are saved.
Specific details aside, the Gospel as simplified as possible is this:
Christianity = Salvation by God’s grace through Jesus.
[42112- Perhaps the next time we fill out one of those forms that requires us to specify our religion we should check the box “Other”, and if it provides a blank to clarify we should write in “Jesus”. That would throw off the nation’s statistics, perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse (as it would seem to indicate Christianity dying off, when in reality it’s being resurrected in a new form, stronger and more alive than before).]
Most people don’t understand that Jesus is completely beyond religion. If more knew this than a lot more people would follow Him. In my opinion the religion of Christianity gets in the way of Jesus. Fundamentalism destroys the true Gospel. In my place of employment I’m described as religious as well and I hate that. That is the last thing I want to be known as. I’ve told some that I’m not religious just like you but they don’t seem to understand what I’m saying. I need to work on really explaining what I mean. It’s kind of cliche and a bit cheesy but its really true: Jesus is a relationship not a religion. If Christianity is just another religion than Jesus means nothing. He isn’t any different than any other religious figure. But Jesus isn’t a religious figure! He’s so much more than that. The Kingdom of God is within us. It has nothing to do with an establishment. But how do you explain that to people! It’s very hard especially because like you said most people don’t question further. They have a very narrow mindset which isn’t totally their fault. It’s just for so long Jesus has been connected with the muck and hypocrisy of religion. They are seeing and hearing the wrong Jesus. It’s very depressing. So I think our goal has to be separating Jesus from religion. And maybe that starts with preaching to the Church. Like Kierkegaard did. His goal was to introduce Christianity to Christendom. The world needs to truly understand Jesus and that can only happen when His followers truly understand Him.