“The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.”
1 Timothy 1:5
They can be a lot of fun!
But they can also be very disturbing…
See, a costume is just something you put on your outer layer – a disguise. A means of making yourself temporarily unrecognizable.
It isn’t real.
We all wear masks to some extent. We don’t let our truest feelings and thoughts shine through in public for lots of reasons. Maybe we want to fit in. Maybe we are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, so we hide behind a persona.
Most of us are afraid that the real ‘me’ inside the costume will be ridiculed or rejected.
So we hide…
The trouble is, true faith can be hidden too – buried behind so many layers of rules and religiosity and high-and-mighty piety that any resemblance to the actual Jesus we are supposed to follow gets twisted and crushed beyond all recognition.
Which is why I needed to lose my religion.
I used to be a judge, jury, and firing squad. I used to weigh the actions of those around me on very severe scales.
I didn’t realize that pain was turning me into a perfectionist whose impossible standards for herself were leaking out onto my expectations of others.
I thought it was all about ‘looking good’.
I lost sight of the fact that it was about being real and honest and taking off the mask and doing life – messy, hard, non-linear, glorious, awful, beautiful life – covered with a blanket of humility and love.
Just like Jesus.
Humble. Compassionate. Loving. Kind. Considerate. Fierce. Powerful. True.
Nothing at all like those ugly masks of perfectionism and judgmental attitudes i out on to cover my own raw inadequacy.
So I had to do it.
Lose my ‘religion’, I mean.
Kick it all to the curb – the outward regulations trying to work their way in , to make room for Jesus to work from the inside out.
‘Religion’ without ‘relationship’ is evil. Rules with no intent to line up the inner self with the outer appearance come across as just a bizarre costume that grates the nerves and strains the truth.
But getting to know the real Jesus?
Following in His humble carpenter’s footsteps. Living a life consumed with meeting global needs, fighting injustice, standing with the oppressed, loving with a genuine faith.
That, my friend, could change the world…
Lose a bit of your religion with me?
Father, You desire our hearts, not the ‘appearance’ or mask of fake perfection. You sent Jesus to be perfect on our behalf so that we would be free to get real with our own inadequacy, to face our own inner battles in Your strength! Help us to be real, open, and genuine, walking in the path of Jesus. Amen.