Updated: Oct 26, 2019
Religion. This single term has received some of the harshest criticism in our culture today. Ironically enough, it's become just as much a discarded term from those on the inside as those on the outside. However, letting the pendulum swing too far to the opposite direction is also ill-advised. This is where we're at as a culture: Anyone can walk inside this "supermarket" of ideas, pick and choose their beliefs off any aisle or off any shelf. No judgement, right? Branding has become irrelevant.
The felt, but often unstated sentiment of this age is, "Believe whatever you want, so long as you don't really believe it." Meaning, believe what you want, but if you're going to be outspoken about it, know that you're walking through a mine field. You never know who the next casualty will be. This is most certainly the case when one would speak out against the widest spreading religions of our time: secularism and relativism.
In this upside-down world, the name "religious bigot" is thrown instantly at anyone who disagrees with the prevailing "progressive" ideas of the day. Again, the irony with this is that these "progressive" ideas have been tracked through history -nothing new here- linking and usually marking the downward spiral of an empire or nation until the point of utter collapse. What's even more puzzling is the way that Christians today seem so ill-equipped to know how to respond. Today's church seems to have a bit of an identity crisis it's still working through.
From the Outside...In
While today's use of the word religion has a lot of baggage, one would do well to take a moment to understand how Jesus viewed it. In Koukl's book, The Story of Reality, we see that,
The way Jesus understood religion was not simply as a private, spiritual view or as a subjective source of ethics or even as a personalized relationship with God. Jesus understood religion first from the outside, not from the inside. #GregKoukl #TheStoryofReality
Yet in today's society, this is exactly opposite the way Christianity has come to be viewed! What's happened? Is Koukl saying that a personal relationship with Jesus isn't the goal? No, that's not his point at all. He's saying it's that it's so much more than that. So much more beautiful, so much fuller than that. Here's the point we miss though - it's based in reality.
From The Right-side...Up
Koukl goes on to give us a vivid and real-to-life picture when he says,
Christianity is a picture of reality. #GregKoukl #TheStoryOfReality
This is such a powerful statement that has been sadly, long forgotten. Christ-followers and non alike have missed it when it comes to Christian beliefs: yes, of course they are personal, but they are also something far more than that alone. They're resoundingly universal in scope. Koukl pushes the point further,
It is an account or a description or a depiction of the way things actually are. It is not just a view from the inside (a Christian’s personal feelings or religious beliefs or spiritual affections or ethical views or 'relationship' with God). It is also a view of the outside. It is a view of the world out there, of how the world really is in itself. #GregKoukl #TheStoryOfReality
It's time for the world, as well as Christians to remember: We didn't make the claim that Jesus is God. He did. What's more, he backed it up. Remember always that it came from Jesus' own lips,
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. #Jesus #GospelOfJohn
Put another way: I'm the only path, I'm the only end, and I'm the only one who can give a new beginning after that end.
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