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Viewpoint from Peter Nicholls 06/02/2015 

churchwarden of All Saints Church, Hethel
authorised worship assistant
volunteer developer and facilitator of a range of Christian eLearning courses for the Diocese of Norwich

I’m not religious

Bet you’ve heard that said hundreds of times! It’s the ultimate disclaimer, as if being thought to be “religious” makes you untouchable, some sort of social pariah that nobody will want to go near

Why so is less clear. What does “religious” mean anyway?

dove leftPerhaps it’s associated with the outsiders’ view of religious practice. Mumbo jumbo sanctified by churches to cement their place in the establishment pecking order. Cultic traditions mediated by deluded priests for whom it’s their job.  Religious rites necessary to keep a slightly grumpy god happy or on your side

None of these are great reasons for being “religious”!

Others use the phrase to express the belief that there is nothing more to life than we can perceive with our senses. The physical world is all there is, so looking further is a waste of time, like searching for a non-existent needle in a haystack. If there truly is nothing other than the material, being “religious” would indeed be absurd

Dove rightBut suppose God is. Suppose there is an ultimate reality beyond the world we can see and touch, an ultimate reality behind the invisible that the electron microscope allows us to view or beyond the cosmic that the radio telescope reveals. Suppose that Jesus really is God in human form, come to show us what true humanity is like, and come to show us what it means to live in harmony with ourselves, each other, creation and God? Suppose Jesus did die, and did come back to life again? Suppose there is truth in Jesus’ followers saying that they experience him now? Would that mean you have to be “religious”?

2700 years ago, a Judean peasant spoke out against the leaders of his nation and of his faith. Answering his own rhetorical question, “What religious practice cuts some ice with God?” Micah of Moresheth put it this way: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

In his day, Jesus himself regularly castigated the religious people for observing the rituals, while ignoring God’s heart for the poor, the vulnerable and the outcast. Here’s a sample: “Woe to you, religious leaders, you give a tenth of your herbs to God but neglect the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. … You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!”

Justice, kindness, humility, mercy, walking with God… perhaps “being religious” isn’t so bad after all

Brett Crosson (Guest) 25/02/2015 08:16
Great message. Thanks.