This post is part of a synchroblog, entitled, Choosing my Religion. The participating writers are answering the question, “If you could change to any other religion in the world (other than Christianity), which would you choose and why?” The links to their contributions are posted at the end of this post.
I am cheating. I didn’t like any of the religions that I had to choose from, so, I invented a new one called Life. Jim Palmer has that great line, “Life is my religion.”
Here are some of the details about this “new religion.”
It has a motto: Love God and love others.
It has some basic beliefs.
- God has redeemed me. I try not to worry about my sin and failure because that diminishes what he has done.
- God has restored me. I remind myself that my relationship with him couldn’t possibly be better because it would be impossible to be loved more than I am right now. His love never changes no matter what I do.
- God has “re-purposed” me. I have a vital role to play in what he is doing now, which is an outgrowth of all I am and all I have been through.
- God is at work everywhere and with everyone. I try to notice it, enjoy it, and explore it.
- God has given me an example of how to live. I try to follow the way of Jesus.
- God wants me to live out a life of love. I try, but have a long, long way to go.
- God wants me to enjoy community and purpose. I try to enjoy it and participate in it wherever I find it.
- God is compassionate to those on the fringes of society. I try to do the same.
Here are some things that are not a part of the “religion.”
- There are no organizations, special buildings, paid professionals, sacred rituals, financial overhead issues, or secret handshakes, because it is a part of life.
- There is no doctrinal statement or systematic theology, because it is integrated into life.
- There might or might not be regular gatherings. Community is important, but it can’t be regulated or mandated.
- There is no effort to pull away culture, but to merge to with it, because God is at work in culture.
- There are no entrance requirements, because everyone is accepted and questions are welcomed.
- There is no outsourcing of my spiritual expression to an institution, because that is an individual matter.
I know is sounds pretty smug to come with my own religion, like it is only one with without flaw. Actually, I don’t think it is new, but it is flawed because I am a part of it. I don’t believe that I have originated this “religion,” nor do I believe I am its only adherent.
There are many interesting things to learn from the study of world religions, commonalities and differences to uncover. I just don’t like religion. It easily becomes a brand, a club, a belief system, a center of power, a breeding ground for extremists and terrorists who misinterpret it, a way of determining who is in and who is out, and who is right and who is wrong. Religion easily leads to arrogance and hatred.
This is simply my attempt to figure out what I believe. Some of my beliefs are still pretty much conservative Christian ones, just expressed a little differently. Others are kind of radical. After several years of deconstruction, I am re-constructing my faith. What I believe has changed and will continue to do so, but these days I am putting more emphasis on relationships and living out my beliefs.
I confess, these beliefs are as aspirational as they are actual, but at least I have a sense of direction.
This way of living is more thoroughly developed in my book, Free Range Faith.