guest post, Brandon Atwell | how you do religion

guest post, Brandon Atwell | how you do religion February 6, 2023

guest post, Brandon Atwell | how you do religion

Brandon Atwell is a minister on pastoral staff at a vibrant growing church. His Pastor is actually a Bishop over Bishops. Brandon is an avid student of the Word, but he is also very practical, as you’ll see in this piece.

However, his praxis in this work is nearly the level of an apologetic, which is a branch of Theology. He deals with a question that really should be given proper perspective in our seeker-sensitive age. This is actually a repost from another online venue. It remains the same except for the headings.

Brandon Atwell | 02.07.21 | used with permission

To learn more about Brandon Atwell, visit his Pastoral staff page here and scroll down CLICK

This may be unpopular; it’ll probably be unliked; and it’ll possibly be misunderstood . . .

For several years now, I’ve heard the phrase, “I don’t have religion; I have relationship,” or some variation of that.

AND I totally understand the sentiment behind that statement.

I get it.

I’ve said it MANY MANY times MYSELF.

I understand that it is ONLY in, through, and with Jesus that we find forgiveness, love, salvation, security, identity, and growth. It’s only through a relationship with Jesus that we’re able to fill the voids in our heart, mind, spirit, and soul.

I get that AND I completely agree.

I understand that relationship with Christ doesn’t come from routines or efforts; that it isn’t something I can earn from doing; it’s not from personal or corporate achievement.

What I don’t get is why the word has become so vilified.

Many consider “religion” to be the antithesis of Christ . . . The opposite of relationship.

What they are failing to see is that by being in relationship with Christ, they are in fact, the very definition, a RELIGIOUS person.

Religion is just a THING!

Religion in and of itself is neither good or bad! IT. IS. A. THING!

Religion is just a thing. It’s a noun. It’s an object, thought, and practice.

Religion is simply the worship of a higher power.

It’s HOW we use religion that creates the bad OR the good . . .

Being religious isn’t the issue; it’s how you do religion that becomes wrong.

We’ve created religion to be synonymous with pharisaic attitudes, judgmental condescension, hypocrisy, and a lack of compassion or love.

That’s not religion; that’s BAD religion.

We refer to people having religious spirits or religious attitudes. Again, I get it, but why can’t we say, “Unloving attitudes or Un-Christlike spirits or hypocritical spirits or hateful spirits,” instead of lumping everything together.

I worship God. I worship Jesus. Because I do these things, I’m a religious person.

Just as religion has been made to be a bad thing; it’s also serving others, loving your neighbor, showing compassion, growing in community, discipleship, and living out the Great Commission.

If God accepts a “pure and faultless” religion then how can it be a bad thing?

It’s simply how we use and approach it.

Being religious isn’t the issue; it’s how you do religion that becomes wrong.

We’ve become so accustomed to demonizing the word that we aren’t even focusing on the things we’re against.

If we disagree with someone’s Theology; we immediately convict them of being “religious.”

When we are, in fact, by calling them out, often guilty of doing/saying the things we’re against.

Why do we so easily become so hostile to others?

If being religious is such a bad thing and I’m religious then why do I measure everything I do against Scripture, the love of Jesus, and treating everyone I come into contact with as my neighbor? Why do I desire to keep myself from the pollution of sin?

I completely get what is being said by contrasting relationship and religion, but is that really what we are meaning?

Sometimes, a word is simply that; a word. We’ve created an entire Theological system by changing a simple word’s literal meaning.

Some will say, “well, genocide and war and slavery and hatred has occurred in the name of religion.” No, it’s occurred in the name of BAD religion.

Let’s stop with automatically classifying someone just because they do it different from us.

Let’s remember that being religious isn’t the issue; it’s how you do religion that becomes wrong.

It is what it is . . .

Love, peace, and blessings,

Pastor Brandon

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