Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. Matthew 11:28 MSG
Religion had frightened me. I needed a break.
Church life is all I’ve ever known. I went before Mom ever birthed me. As a small child, I had my favorite nursery teachers, and my grandmother fed me Hershey Kisses to keep me quiet when I graduated to “big church.”
Then Dad became a pastor … and eventually I became one. I saw the pretty and the ugly side of church. As a young person, I looked at church as more ugly than pretty. I heard about the unkind things various people had said about my dad—and I witnessed numerous ugly episodes as I pastored churches. Hurtful comments—said to my face and behind my back. Devastating actions that undermined my leadership.
Finally, burnout came … or lingered around the corner if I didn’t do something. My wife felt the same. She, too, had been hurt numerous times. We decided to take a break. Not from Jesus, but from religion.
Jesus often needed a break. He went off alone to pray … to consult His Father … to rejuvenate. And He wanted little to do with the religious legalists who burdened others down with impossible and distorted rules and who tried to trap Him and destroy His ministry. Jesus taught the people more about a relationship than He did about rules.
Surveys show the number of “nones,” (those who claim no religious affiliation) are steadily increasing. Among the reasons they give for not attending church: unanswered questions about religion, social and political issues in churches, unbelief in God, dislike of religious organizations, dislike of religious leaders, and religious irrelevancy (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/08/why-americas-nones-dont-identify-with-a-religion).
Burning out on religion is possible—and probably happens more than we know. Perhaps we need to change churches—or even take a temporary break from all physical churches. More than likely, though, we need a reorientation of our mindset, along with a resetting of our priorities.
Jesus never intended for “religion” to take the place of our relationship with Him. Religion is about rules, practices, liturgies, and tertiary discussions. Religion is the fluff that can clutter our lives and hide what Christ wants us to enjoy: the relationship with Him. We can burn out on religion, but we’ll never burn out on the relationship.
Don’t let religion—and the negative things often associated with it—steal your love for Christ or your desire to obey and serve Him.
Prayer: Father, remind us that a relationship with You is what Your Son died to give us.
Tweetable: Are you a recovering religion addict?
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