Thursday March 25 – Day 37 – WE DON’T NEED RELIGION

 In Lenten Devotional

Thursday March 25 – Day 37 – WE DON’T NEED RELIGION

“7-9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.
10-11 I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.” – Philippians 3:7-11 (MSG)

We’ve all done it.

We decide to walk on the grass in the park on a beautiful spring day.  Not a cloud in the sky!  The smells and sights washed in the brilliant sun have made this a near perfect moment.

And then it happens.

As we walk, looking into the beautiful blue sky, we take one step that doesn’t seem like the one before it.  When the ground was once firm and solid, this step seems…soft.  As our shoe sinks as if in a small amount of quicksand, the aroma hits our nose.

Yep.  We just stepped in a big pile of dog dung.

There is nothing worse than ruining a good pair of shoes, or trying to clean them after stepping into doggie doo doo.  Whatever good vibes you were experiencing before this have evaporated and you run home trying to get your shoes clean.

No one who owns a dog has a shelf of puppy poo in bags in their man cave to display as trophies to show their friends.  Everyone throws them in the garbage.  There is no redeeming value in canine crap.

In Paul’s letter to Phillipi, he talks about his life before Jesus and after Jesus.  He shares that the things he thought were important now are meaningless, insignificant, or for a lack of a better term, dog dung.

In our Lenten journey, there are some things in your life that you need to throw out in the trash.  Things that have the same worth as ca ca.  Has God been nudging at your heart?  Do you have a better idea of what you need to let go of?  If you aren’t sure, ask yourself this question:  “What ways of living as a believer do I need to let go of in order to truly worship Jesus?”.  Don Berry-Graham is one of the few pastors I know that was never hung up on being addressed by his pastoral title.  In fact, he made very clear to people that he met that Jesus was more important to him than the title of “reverend” or “minister”.  In his personal worship, he placed the worship of title and status into the dumpster.

Has your study of God’s word and your numerous university degrees become a god to you?  Would you rather have a theological discourse with someone or share with them the ways that Jesus has made a practical difference in your life?

To quote Brian Houston (*the great songwriter, not the Hillsong guy*), “We don’t need religion but we could use the love of God”.

I have spent a lot of my music ministry at James Street and Graceworks tearing down the conventions and inventions of man.  With my guitar in my hand, proving that you can worship God just as powerfully with one guitar than you can with a Casavant organ.  I don’t want an inferior brand of righteousness, I want the real thing.  I want to worship Jesus with all that I am and breathe in His goodness and His power.  I want to be holy, as Jesus the Servant King was holy.  This takes a lifetime of living, a lifetime of sinning, a lifetime of regret, prayer and surrender.

By trusting God, we begin to experience God’s righteousness in a different way.  It becomes authentic and real.  It is no longer a set of rules that we follow like mindless robots and turn off our emotions in the process.  God’s righteousness takes everything that we are:  heart, mind and spirit, and changes us.  We develop a hunger and desire to be with God, to know Him and to fill our lives with goodness, God’s goodness.

Anything else that doesn’t fit in the category of God’s goodness can be kicked to the curb.

It does not matter the list of things we have done in the name of Christianity in order to gain God’s favour.  What does matter, and this is the crux of the Lenten journey:

God’s grace covers us because of who He is, not by what we have done.

God’s grace covers us because of who He is, not by what we haven’t done.

God’s grace cover us because of who He is, not by the letters that follow our name.

God’s grace covers us because of who He is. Period.

Lent is a time of soul searching and I hope that you have had moments over these past 37 days to reflect on where you are right now.  Know that wherever you are right now is ok.  What matters now is where you want to be tomorrow.  If your heart desires an authentic faith but you have been stuck in dogma and religiosity, all it takes is one prayer lifted to heaven spoken directly from your heart:

“God, make me real in You.

Do not let me stay stuck in the rules and regulations of religion.

Show me Your heart and may Your Holy Spirit fill me.

My heart longs for You. Help me, Lord. I don’t know where to start.”

As we are honest with ourselves and with God, we can walk this Lenten journey being refined by the true love of Jesus.  May we know God’s resurrection power.  May we be a partner in His sufferings and as we one day walk that Beautiful Mile from earth to heaven, may we experience life beyond the grave.

My prayer for all of us is that God will reveal the place where we need to start this journey of discovery and transformation.

Be blessed, church.  See you tomorrow.

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