Cross Points 7.2.21

Recovering From Religion

I was watching a travel channel TV show about Route 66 recently and during the segment about traveling through New Mexico they took a diversion to Madrid, northeast of Albuquerque.  I remember the town of Madrid from a favorite movie, Wild Hogs, about four guys who decide to ride their motorcycles across the country.  
They get stuck without gas in Madrid and must spend the weekend there, hoping the motorcycle gang they offended doesn’t find them (they do).  In this Route 66 TV show they state that Madrid is an artist and hippy community.  They interviewed several and one guy talked about how some of them live in this place as they recover from the Christian religion.
Why would someone need to recover from the Christian religion?  Unfortunately, too many people will have an answer for that.  Maybe it’s a person who had very strict, unloving but church-going parents.  All they know about Christianity is being criticized by parents, with religion as the critical club used to hit them (“Why did you do that, you know that God is watching you and is not pleased with you!”).  Or maybe it’s a person who was abused by a religious stepparent or while in a religious foster home.  It could be a person from a broken family, whose Christian parents could not get along, creating a caustic environment, and to the child proving that the parents Christian faith must not be real, so now the child has grown up and has no interest.  But it might be as simple as a person in a basically good Christian home, but whose parents did not really live out their faith, more concerned about success and stuff, while not demonstrating the positives of speaking and living for Christ.
The examples are many, sad to say.  I hate it.  And I’ve been guilty of one of those scenarios myself, divorce always taking a swing at faith (fortunately, my kids faith stayed intact, although I’m sure it was impacted).  The saddest part of such situations is that people will walk away from Christ, when it’s not him, but his followers (or so-called followers) who have failed these people.  God weeps over these circumstances I have no doubt.  He calls for the prodigal to come home.  He offers them grace and love, and forgiveness if they have lived in rebellion against him.  But it’s not easy, the wounds go deep.  

So, I get it.  I understand why some might feel they need to recover from religion, even the Christian religion.  If you are such a person, I’m sorry.  Whether I’ve offended you to this degree myself, I hope not, but we are all certainly imperfect and have said things and done things that haven’t helped advance the message of Jesus the Messiah.  Lord, forgive me.  Lord, help the jaded person see you through Jesus for who you really are, for who you need to be for them.  Wipe away the toxic past and open their eyes to the truth that is you, that is communicated in your Word when we interpret it with maturity and in context, driving a loving but disciplined heart.  They need that.  I need that.  
What I can tell you from personal experience is that God is the answer, not the problem.  He allows us to choose him or reject him, to decide what values and actions we’ll take.  He honors us with choices, but in the process, we have messed up the world through our sin.  God keeps working on our behalf.  In Jesus he provides the perfect sacrifice for sin, offering love, forgiveness, offering peace of mind, offering restored relationships with others, and with him.  A path to travel, as disciples.  And one day, praise his name, the eternal rewards of heaven, a restored earth in all its sinless glory.  For me, and for you!

Cross Point: When the people who make up the church function as they should, it’s a beautiful thing, a family to support you and encourage you, as Christians help each other along “the way.”  “A new commandment I give you,” Jesus said, “that you love one another just as I have loved you” (Jn. 13:34).
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