I like a lot of rock music. Do you remember R.E.M.’s classic song Losing My Religion? The group never intended it to say anything about religion or even about Christian faith—the title comes from a Southern expression meaning to “lose one’s temper or civility” or “feeling frustrated and desperate.” But the song set me on another track of thinking: When we blow away all the cobwebs that surround our thinking on what Christianity is, we will realize that the best thing we can do is to lose our religion—literally.
Lose our religion?
Absolutely, but keep the faith.
Lose all our Christian furnishings and furniture, spit and polish—everything that keeps us from reaching out to those who need the life-saving, healing, and renewing power of the Gospel. Jesus never intended following him to become another religion, but rather a way of life. Our life needs to reflect our faith.
We have never walked today’s roads before. The old models of ministry that worked so well in the past may appear anachronistic to many. If we don’t discern the shifts, move with the times, and keep up with the way things are, we’ll be left behind wondering what happened.
Take a look around you. Our churches and ministries are flickering and dying out faster than we can even track them. Overburdened and distracted by in-house disgruntlement, church leaders often resort to promoting even more vigorously what people turned away from years or even decades ago. Trying to balance the old with the fast-moving new is a perfect prescription for discouragement, blame, and burnout.
We can be sure of one thing: If we do what we’ve always done, then we’ll get what we’ve already got. Intelligent and compassionate outreach is the crying need of the day. The church needs to be a place of refuge from the world’s storms. We need to communicate the life-saving message of the Gospel in the way it is best understood. This doesn’t mean diluting the message to make it pleasing and acceptable to everyone. On the contrary, the Truth never changes, only the way we reach out and share that Truth.
The world may pay little attention to our great traditions, stained-glass, creeds, choirs, or even our praise choruses, assemblies, and all the rest. But many care about the critical questions the Gospel answers and how it heals the brokenhearted and cures disorders and sickness. And it is in this where all our hope lies—in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So we need to remember that what we say and how we behave do credit or discredit what we believe. Our actions tend to reflect what is in our hearts. We should ask ourselves daily, Do my words or my behavior point to Jesus or away from him?
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