I Hate the Term ‘Religion’

I hate the term ‘Religion’. Why do we have to label everything? Gay, straight, black, white, Christian, non-Christian – these labels are not our ‘identities’. They are a part of who we are. I much prefer it when someone asks me, “Are you a believer?” in which case I smile and respond with, “Yes. I believe in God.”

This is what I was taught: God created the Earth. He created it perfect with everything we need to sustain ourselves and our home. Then He put two people on this Earth and gave them a list of rules for their protection. He said, “You can be happy with this perfect world, just don’t try to change anything and don’t pretend to know more than me, or that you need to know more than me.”

This was God’s first chance given to humanity. We chose to break His rule, thus the appearance of sin.

God wasn’t surprised, of course. But things got steadily worse. People murdered their brothers for land and raped innocent women and treated their slaves the same way one might treat a rat in the street. It was all very Game of Thrones. So God decided to give us our second chance. He chose a group of people who were the most faithful to Him, thinking that this would help us make the right choice, and He put them on a boat – with animals, of course, because animals are perfect and kind and innocent in every way (seriously, God should have just let animals rule the world). Then He cleansed the Earth with a flood. But the seed of sin still remained and deep down, we are all sinners no matter how kind and faithful and innocent we might seem. Children will eventually become killers and liars and cheaters and corrupt leaders. Not all children, but some.

So eventually God decided to do something drastic and gave us a third chance to be the creation He always imagined we’d be. He sent His only son down to Earth to live among us. To show us kindness. To show us we are worth something. To show us how to live the right way, even if it seems strict or ‘boring’ in some cases. Above that, Jesus promised a better life – no, an eternity – with His father and told us exactly how to get there. And what did we do? We tortured him and hung him on a cross to die horrifically in front of hundreds of people.

Jesus cast his eyes to the heavens in his dying moment and said, “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do.” But we knew exactly what we were doing. Because given that choice once more in the Garden of Eden, a lot of us would still make the same mistake.

People always say, “Why earthquakes? Why bone cancer in children? Why terrorism and war and murder and rape?” Because this was the choice we made. And I’m sure if you stood beside a child with leukemia who never even knew the story of God and sin and told them there was a better place to live, an ‘Earth 2.0’ called Heaven where pain does not exist, what choice would they make? Why would they want to live on this Earth full of disappointing people who made the choice to bring bone cancer into the world in the first place?

I know God exists and everything in the Bible is true and He is here with us all right now in this moment. When I look at the sun setting behind a pink and purple sky or at a newborn baby or even when someone holds a door open for a stranger, I know God’s presence is real. I don’t stand back and say, “Wow, great work there, Satan!” Or, “Man, science is cool!” Doesn’t quite ring, does it?

When I think of everything I am incredibly blessed with at just 23 years of age, how can I possibly see it all as my doing? Great people have done great things, but that greatness did not come from them. It was birthed in them. Who thought to name an apple an apple? Who thought to build a machine that would one day transport people all over the world through the sky? These ideas are born of creativity, but creativity comes from a creator. Imagination, ideas, feelings, hope, dreams… these things did not come from a big bang. They came from an all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, ever-loving creator of the universe.

But not everything in this universe is sunshine, rainbows and solar systems. It’s hard for people understand why God even created sin in the beginning if it was only going to cause us pain. Thing is, He didn’t create sin. Sin is the absence of God. God is light, sin is darkness. God is warmth and love and life. Sin is cold and hate and death. Why do we constantly choose to live in darkness rather that meet the light? Why do we cling to hate instead of walking into the waiting arms of love?

When it comes down to the facts, no one really knows that God exists. Yes, there is physical proof of Jesus’ existence that may or may not match the Bible’s timeline, and the Bible itself could just be a stupidly old journal passed down through time up until someone’s crazy prediction of the end of the world was added and spoiled the ending for everyone. Some people believe in God because they’re afraid that there is nothing at the end of life. Some believe because a miracle happened to them or someone in their family and science simply could not explain it. Some believe because it’s how they were brought up and they just can’t seem to shake the feeling that God is always with them. And some believe because it is too far-fetched to accept that the world came together in one giant bang.

I am not religious. I’m not disciplined enough to read my Bible every day and I definitely don’t give ten-percent of my earnings to offering at church. I’m a ‘believer’, if you have to put a label on it. I believe because I cannot imagine an existence without light or love or life. And I can’t fathom the intricate design of the human heart enough to explain how it was placed inside my chest without believing that someone who is light and love and life put it there and gave me a name and a purpose and a choice, then held out His hand and promised me a much better eternity than this temporary home if only I said ‘yes. I do believe’.

I mean, really. How could I not?

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