Does God really need the label of Christianity?
Ask a number of Christians, and you will get the impression that they believe God needs it.
Last week, I revisited this need to label Christianity and the constraints of this normalized practice.
Here are three thoughts from days 127-133.
1) Edging God Out?
Labels are useful. They help us make sense of the world and organize it.
Our minds do not thrive in a state of steady confusion so categorizing people, places, and things helps us.
However, like the heart, the ego wants what the ego wants, and much of humanity has veered to the extreme with the labels.
Once, I heard a minister state, “Ego stands for ‘Edging, god, out.’”
After much reflection on our ego-filled attempts to spread the Christian religion and create laws and policies to force upon people who do not share these beliefs, I perceive much ado about edging.
Who am I kidding?
Some of us have pushed God over a cliff so we can use a holy name for political, economic, and social power-No edging required.
Are our arguments over scripture nothing more than vanity? As I think about the years I put into proving certain truths, I can contend that there was ego involved, even if my intention was to help or to rack up favorable judgment day points with God.
2) Spirituality Without a Religious Label
I believe that more of us care to admit that we have made such a thing of “Christianity,” that without this religious label, our spirituality ceases to exist.
We would be lost sheep, as if Christianity as a religion is our God.
Labels are things we can use to control. We can use them to create and shape narratives about people, their souls, lives, worth, and very being. By building institutions from these labels and stories, we can solidify the ability to influence by controlling the narrative. When people buy into these narratives, we can thereby control them, too.
The early followers of Christ were initially called “Christians” at Antioch. People observed defining characteristics in these early followers, and as humans do, and created this identity marker.How beautiful.
Yet, today, we carry on with the label as fulfillment of prophesy or destiny.
The challenge with keeping the label, is that we turn it into practices to control the maintenance of the label. Do we think that maintaining the label maintains God?
3) Socially Constructed Religion for an Uncontainable God
Several years ago, I had an awakening to the social construction of Christianity. A number of our “Christian” practices are things that people made up. Through churches, we have cultivated and passed on different social norms and practices that we often mistake as requirements from God.
Let’s just have a moment of silence right now for church bylaws and denominational conflicts.
So, what counts as truly Christian? Who decides? If you are a Christian, you might refer to people or texts that were constructed by people to help answer this inquiry.
If you think the answer is simple, we would not have a proliferation of denominational and nondenominational churches. After all, various churches still persist in warring over what counts as the “rock” upon which the church would be established. Was it Peter? Was it the wisdom of Jesus?
Better believe, being dunked or sprinkled has nothing to do with desserts and everything to do with the eternal state of your soul.
As we can see in the early church, it is not unusual for people to try to establish order to help with furthering our causes.In the New Testament, we find writings where spiritual offices and gifts are delineated, as well as criteria for different formal leadership positions.
I wonder if we have gone too far. I believe God is more expansive than the limited scope of our socially constructed religion.
I do not think this social influence renders spiritual aspects of the Christian religion void. I contend it removes our holier than thou footing and invite us to more freedom.
Countless Christians love to sing the contemporary worship song about an uncontainable God. Yet, many of us attempt to contain this same God in our daily lives.
Remove the label of Christianity, and we come face to face with an uncontrollable narrative about a truly uncontainable God.