Deconstructing Your Religion, Not Your Faith
“Deconstructing”. This term seems to get thrown around a lot, especially as of late, With the dawn of Covid came the demise of many traditional religious church traditions. Is it because of Covid, or because many people are sick and tired of the pretenses? Are many first world church goers realizing that what they have experienced in church buildings everywhere is more along the lines of heresy than true Christianity? Has this caused many to question their very belief in Christ?
I think the answer to all of these questions is, yes.
Couple all of those thoughts with pure human emotion, and that equals much hurt. Church hurt to be exact. Feelings of betrayal, anger, sadness and confusion just to name a few are the remnants of what some used to call their very identity.
Herein lies the problem.
I have written about this many, many times, but when people get upset with me for speaking out against the UPC, it isn’t because I have said anything about them personally. It is because I have said something against the very religion that they deem apart of themselves. They have invested heart and soul into a church organization and so when one verbalizes distain or disagreement with said organization, they take it very personally. But, our identity isn’t a religious organization. In fact, it isn’t even a religion. As Christ followers, our identity is in Christ alone.
Yet, here we are. Many genuinely hurting people are all around us who used to sit in a pew next to us every week and “feel the presence of God” with us. I speak from a previous religious experience that was based solely off of feelings and emotions. Every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday youth service, we judged how much “God” we experienced off of how many songs were song at a fast beat, how many people could be found shouting at the altar, and how loud the minister yelled into an old church mic. We shook hands with those around us, smiled through our raw feelings of whatever we had endured throughout the week, and “pressed through” in order to obtain the coveted “anointing”.
Week in and week out this was our lives. However, somewhere along the line, whether it be from the break from Covid, or because we just couldn’t take the highs and lows of an emotional religious experience any longer, we broke free.
But, breaking free of a religious experience is not the same of breaking free from Christ. Maybe I need to say that again. When you leave a religion, that does NOT mean you leave Jesus! What you do leave, is the emotionalism, and that can be problematic for many.
We were always taught unless you “felt” something, you weren’t doing it right, Unless you had that spiritual high during every church service, and even at home, your very soul was in danger. That delusion however, has cost many people their walk with God. The idea that living for God is all about a certain feeling is preposterous to say the least.
Let me stop right here and say, I do believe you can feel God.
That being said, humans are emotional. When you don’t have emotions any longer, that is a huge red flag, but to base our standing with God off of our emotions and feelings, we are limiting God to dwell within our finite capabilities, and forcing him into a box of our feelings. Not to mention, when we are feeling down, or just not up to par on a Sunday morning, yet we force ourselves to put on a happy face and pretend that we are, I’m sure that annoys God to no end! He made us for crying out loud! He knows when we are faking it, and don’t you think that is a bit of an insult to him if we can’t just shrug our shoulders and say, “I feel like crap today God. I know you’re real and I am just going to rest in that fact and let you do everything else”?
Now, back to the deconstructing part. Because so many religious experiences are forced into a tiny box of human emotions, this is now how we now judge our Christianity, by our feelings. See where I am going here? Since we are so used to faking it, so used to putting God in our tidy little box of emotionalism, when we don’t have that “high”, we are programmed to think that God isn’t around. We have been ingrained by religion that if we don’t feel like reading our Bible everyday, if we just can’t bring our minds to get past our ADD and pray 24/7, if we don’t dress perfectly, act perfectly, portray our religion to others perfectly God must not be in us. We must have lost our very faith, if we don’t feel like being religious all of the time. Then we begin to question God. If we can’t feel him, he must not be real. When reality, this is all apart of being human. We don’t have to feel God all of the time, and when we can’t, that does not mean he isn’t around.
It is okay to have our ups and downs as a Christ follower. It is okay to not always feel like taking three hours a day to study the Bible, and it is also okay to admit you are simply needing a break!
Ephesians 1:13 states this:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
I did a little research on the word “sealed” in this verse, it means endorsed, like with a king’s signet ring. In other words, God endorsed us when we believed that he sent his son Jesus to die for us. It doesn’t say God only seals us when we feel him around by us going through religious motions, or traditions. It doesn’t say we are only endorsed by God when we have good days and read our Bibles and pray a certain amount of time. We are endorsed by the Holy Spirit when we believed on Christ. That’s it. This is our identity, not a religion.
When we limit God to our own feelings, and make him that small, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice. This belief can cause us to question the very existence of our Creator, and while I truly believe we as humans can feel the presence of God, I think we feel him in everyday subtle ways more genuinely than in shout down church services. I know I’ve experienced God in sitting outside soaking up sunshine, driving in my car just thinking about his grace and mercy, and other mundane day to day activities where God is just as much around me as in a church building.
Just because you may be in a place of your life of deconstructing your religion, you don’t have to deconstruct your very faith in God. He is real and with you even when you don’t feel religious.