Thursday, March 1, 2012

Religion Vs. Jesus

It's been pretty breezy over here the last few days with posts like, "my dream life" and "on being a bridesmaid" but today, it's about to get real. So if light, airy posts are your thing, well then come back tomorrow because I'm sure there will be one to suit your fancy. But if you like to read something that's real every now and then, stick around because I don't think you'll be disappointed & if nothing else, you'll have something to think about.


I was raised in a Lutheran church and even went to the Lutheran school for nine years from Kindergarten to eighth grade. We went to church and sunday school every Sunday without fail and each Wednesday morning, our entire school went to chapel for an hour. I learned about why we believe even babies can get baptized and why we call communion the flesh and the blood instead of saying it symbolizes the two. We had religion class every single day where we read the bible, did worksheets on our reading and once a week, recited memory verses we had memorized.

And we participated in all the Lutheran traditions. We went through all the church holidays. We celebrated advent and lent and the epiphany. I went through two years of confirmation classes every Sunday before I could take communion. I got confirmed and then finally got to take communion.

And then? I left the church. We kind of slowed down going to church when I was in high school and then college happened and we pretty much completely dropped off the face of the church. Well, the face of that church.

I came to college and I started going to a different church, a non-denominational one. And I started thinking about all the years I had spent in the Lutheran church going through the motions, not forgetting any of the traditions. And I started to wonder ... is non-denominational better? 

I mean really, I don't think God really cares if his followers got baptized as babies or teens or adults. I don't think he cared if his followers were sitting or standing during the reading of His word. I don't even really think he cares if married couples used birth control or not. 

All of this makes me wonder how often we get caught up in being Lutheran, or Catholic, or Methodist and how in reality? we should just be being Jesus followers. I mean really, that's all that matters.

It doesn't matter if you kneel at times or stand. It doesn't matter when you decide to baptize your baby or if you think communion symbolizes the blood and flesh or is the blood and flesh.

And for that reason, I think I'm going to be non-denominational or at least try to practice that. I'm going to try to forget about the motions and remember to be present and the people this is all about: God, Jesus & The Holy Spirit.

Have you ever thought of this? What are your thoughts?


Caitlin said...

I think it's great that you posted this!
Ok.. here's my thoughts..
I was raised in the Methodist church and right now, three years into my college career, I am still attending a Methodist church. I am not going to say that I am full of knowledge when it comes to other denominations, but from what little I know, it seems to me that the Lutheran and Catholic church are heavily rooted in ritual. You go through confirmation, you take communion, you attend services when the doors are open, you go to confessions, you stand here and sit there during the service, etc...
But what I have learned in my near 21 years in the Methodist church is that ultimately it's about a relationship. Your relationship with Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter whether you've made a public profession through baptism, whether you attend service every time the door is open or just once a month. All that matters is that you know and accept Christ and walk with Him daily.
I think too many churches get caught up in the rituals of "going to church" and forget the importance of a relationship.
I hope that you are able to find that no matter where you worship!

Michele said...

Amen Ali! It's all about Jesus: who do you believe He is, was and will be. The rest of the stuff is just, well, stuff. It's fine to believe in one way or the other as long as you don't use that to exclude other peoples believe about stuff. The heart of the matter is Jesus. Is Jesus in your heart and is He who you want your heart and body and mind to be more like every day.

Good post today. I like the fluffy and the not-so-fluffy of your blog!

shana tooley said...

I agree with you ali. I know that I don't really have a religion, but I believe in god and try to be the best I can be every single day. I am really happy that you posted this. Because I think more people should think the way that you do.

Jill said...

Ali... you are fabulous! I've been trying to find a way to contemplate the very same things on my blog and keep getting too concerned with getting too heavy. This is great. I think about the same thing all the time.

I was born and raised Catholic, but have found myself wandering around aimlessly looking for a better fit. It really should be about your relationship with God. The frills and the routine are fine. As long as they don't distract you from the bigger picture. I always say that I think God is a lot more open minded than some people give him credit for. :) As long as your heart is open and your intentions are good, I don't think a religious title should matter!

Carley said...

This is a great post Ali!
I think religion is a very touchy subject to talk about. I was raised in a Methodist church and still practice being Methodist. To be honest that is the only thing I’ve known and really couldn’t tell you the difference between my religion and say being Lutheran. I believe we are all children of God. Now, this is how I feel.... When I went through being confirmed I remember sitting there thinking that there is no way all the stories in the bible were true. To me it felt like the game “Telephone” where the true story gets passed around and in the end becomes false or some parts of the story have been changed. I have my own relationship with God, Jesus, and The Holy Sprit. I follow what is going on in church, but I learn and do what I want to. Sometimes I don’t even take communion, that’s just me. God knows that I am a good person, he knows I apperciate the life I have been given. So, I don’t feel like I need to pray when I’m told to pray, participate in communion when everyone participates nor sing when everyone else sings. None of it matters and long as you have your own relationship with God, Jesus & The Holy Sprit. On a side note, have you ever read ‘Heaven is for real’?

Stacy @ Cardigans and Crayons said...

I enjoyed reading this. You are so isn't about the ritual, it's about the heart.

The only thing I would disagree with is that the religion does matter. At least to the point that you need to find a denomination (or non-denomination) that believes the Bible. So many churches teach wacky things, so as long as you are going to one that is teaching the Bible...the TRUE Bible, then that's great!

And good for you for figuring out what you believe and what you want to believe! But again, just make sure it lines up with Scripture!

mommy8wifey said...

This is one of the best posts ever Ali!

I totally agree with you. Although my little family don't go to church we all believe that there is a God and we love him very much! I am going to teach my children about him as much as I can but also tell them they dont have to attend a church to have a relationship with him either. That is my bottom line. I love God and what he has done to this world and all. But I dont think anyone should tell me that i have to worship him at a church. Why can't i just do it in my own home where it is more pure and real and i dont have to prove to anyone that i do or dont love God. I hope this makes since on what i was saying! lol Great Post though! :)

Anonymous said...

Ali,This is the best post that I have read from you yet!!!I believe in all the way you just spoke!!I grew up a Baptist in Middletown ,Ohio then, First Christian Church here in Columbus and now at St.Peter's Lutheran here in Columbus.I was baptized when I was a baby then when I was 9 years in Ohio.I may not go to Church often,but I,believe in,Jesus,God and that he died for all our Sins and he knows that I do and nothing else matters!People,friends know that we are Christian by how we act and treat people!!God is why you,myself and others are here.