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Losing My Religion

“True religion helps us to grow, but pseudo-religion hinders growth, for it creates and maintains obstacles and barriers. Thus it is that much religion merely censors experience and does not liberate it, stifles human potential and does not allow it to blossom.” Kenneth Leech

In the light of Leech’s comment I find myself wondering if  our Christian communities have become defined by our jobs in church or religious knowledge rather than our spiritual centredness and experience of the living God?

Sure we need both, but I fear that the structure of religion has become a safety net for some and a cage for others. The others, have and are leaving in search of spiritual meaning else where, looking for what Kenneth leech describes as something that liberates and allows us to blossom.

That latter experience of God being liberating and blossoming  is something people experienced around Jesus, those who where healed, challenged, where changed from the encounter. For them they entered into a new way of life a new reality.

If we believe our religion, and our spiritual journey to be the right path, or one of the right paths, then there needs to be something more than ritual, something deeper than collective routine.

The purpose of religious ritual and routine is to deepen our walk with God, open us to the deeper spiritual narrative of what the holy spirit is doing in our lives and the lives of others, in our community and world. But does it? Does the routine still do those things? Or have we become stale? Do we need a change, or do we need to change?

In exercise terms as our bodies got used to the routine and so the routine doesn’t have the greater impact in calorific loss, or muscle gain, because we need to run longer or increase our weights! In the same way our spiritual health is dependent on us to keep it fresh, to change things when we get into that hamster wheel of religiosity just going around and around perhaps not even seeing initially, what is happening, until we get so fed up we think God isn’t listening to us and we leave altogether.

There is of course, something wonderful about religion, that collective cohesion, common bond and outlook, common worship that holds us and binds us together. A religious community growing together in God, deepening one another’s spiritual reality, just like iron sharpens iron. Too often perhaps we expect perfection from our Christian community because after all Jesus is perfect. Perhaps there would be less politics and backbiting in church, if we accepted one another the way we are, for all of our failings and successes and instead directed our energy in following, listening and growing, in Jesus.

I wonder in what ways do we, or would we need to change as communities of Christians, to allow one another to grow deeper in God. It has to be more than teaching programmes, or inspirational worship. That spiritual growth is quite individualistic in a way, but the fruit of it, is outward looking, allowing us to bless others, come alongside the brokenhearted, and be the kind of Christian and religious community perhaps God is calling us to be and the world needs us to be.

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