Have you heard the common line, ‘I’m not religious, I’m spiritual’?
Dr. David Dark says we may want to re-think the whole concept.
“Your religion is your witness. It is the shape your loves and your hates take in your daily life.”
In his book Life's Too Short to Pretend You're Not Religious, he shares the importance of being open to other people’s stories instead of trying to dismiss them with a label. We can start with the best of intentions but quickly cross the line into being judgmental. We can often even do this with fellow believers after experiencing a church hurt or other rejection.
“The idea that the whole of Christian tradition can be summed up by one bad experience in one church… that’s a really intellectually dishonest move. Which, nevertheless, is very convenient and appealing insofar as we’re trying to identify ourselves and live healthily in the world.”
We all have a context for navigating our life. The key is to understand those contexts without being dismissive of other people. The abundance of media in our culture tends to feed into this practice. If you see someone posting a political article on social media, it’s easy to label them one party or the other, draw a false narrative, and move on with your energy. David says that’s a mark of laziness and boredom.
“Whether it’s the headlines, or somebody’s Facebook page, when we think that we have gotten to the bottom of someone else with an adjective like ‘religious,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘conservative,’ ‘fundamentalist,’ whatever it might be, we are taking a mental shortcut. We’ve done the most unimaginative thing we can do to a person when we think we’ve got him down with a label.”
We can identify our religion just as we identify our worship – where do we put our energy each day?
“Your religion is your controlling story, and there are as many as there are people.”
When we go about our life and interact with others, we can seek to understand how each person is wired by watching the fruit of their life and asking God to show us how He sees them. Rather than labeling them and carrying on, we can reach out to them and find common ground of belief. We all worship Someone or something, and building on that is the first step to having an honest conversation of faith.
“Our worship isn’t just what happens in the context of a church service. You will know my worship by my online footprint, by my receipts, by the way I speak of other people. There is no on/off switch to my worship.”
Featured Songs: I Will Trust in You by Lauren Daigle; Sovereign by Chris Tomlin; Faithful to the End by Bethel Music