Let’s face it, when it comes to religion we could all use a little detoxing. We are probably far more religious than we think. At the same time, Jesus didn’t come to start a religion. He detested religion and still does. The goal of Christianity isn’t to get more religious, but it is to get less religious. The more intimate we become with Jesus the less we need religion.
Jesus came inviting us into a whole new way. That’s why I wrote Detox for the Overly Religious. For years I attempted to meet the perceived expectations of God and others in my life, seeking acceptance. I wanted to be approved. I wanted to be right. As a result I was unavailable to my family, a little too uptight around people, worked way too hard at everything, rigid and regimented, overly serious, boring, and stressed out. All of my overly religious activity made me really tired.
Along the way I lost my religion and rediscovered the simplicity of Jesus and his ways. I’m still rediscovering Jesus and that’s part of what makes this journey so exciting. Not to long ago my wife looked at me and said, “I didn’t know it could be this good.” Speaking of life on earth. I must admit as a result of losing our religion, life is getting better, especially as we rediscover Jesus.
Why not jump on the detox wagon? Chances are we could all use a little detox…more of Jesus and less of religion. Here are some thoughts for starters…
Detox isn’t about being right; it’s about admitting I’m wrong. Jesus began his ministry with the words “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). Repent? Who was Jesus talking to? I always assumed it was the Pharisees, but what if he’s talking to you and me? What if he is about to show us a whole new way of life? What if we keep missing it because we think his message is for the religious?
Detox isn’t about religion; it’s about rediscovering Jesus. A common misconception is that detox is something negative. It’s actually very positive. It’s about discovering or rediscovering the simplicity and centrality of Jesus and his ways. It’s a word that every religious and irreligious person needs to hear.
Detox isn’t about believing; it’s about following. Okay, now you got me. I just said it. Detox isn’t about believing. Sure it is, but it’s so much more. Detox is about discovering Jesus as you follow him. Let’s face it ,we all believe or we wouldn’t be reading this. Do we follow? Do we know how to follow? Jesus invites us to “come follow him.” He doesn’t tell us to build religious boxes to place all of our beliefs in. James tells us the “demons believe”. The core issue of the Gospel is our willingness to follow.
Detox isn’t a curriculum; it’s a way of living. Jesus invited his disciples into a way of life. Jesus didn’t pull out a Twenty-six week curriculum. Jesus’ life was their curriculum. His life is still our curriculum.
Detox isn’t about praying; it’s about obeying. I was recently being interviewed by a radio host, he was somewhat taken back by the title of one of my chapters, Stop Praying and Start Going. Following Jesus is about hearing his voice, seeing his activity, and understanding his way. When we hear, see, and understand, that is our invitation to follow. Following requires obedience. When we learn to follow, our prayer life takes on a whole new perspective. When God has so clearly spoken about many things, why do we continue to pray about them as if they are optional? Stop praying and start going seems like the only conclusion.
Detox isn’t about going to heaven; it’s about heaven coming to earth. The kingdom is at hand! Jesus prayed that his kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven. Sure, when I die I’m going to heaven, but don’t miss heaven now. As I live, heaven is coming to me. The kingdom is here! And it’s my responsibility to see that there is plenty of heaven to go around in my sphere of influence. Go ahead and read the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7). Okay! Read it again! And again! Jesus is inviting us into a whole new way. His kingdom is at hand!
Let’s face it, we could all use a little detoxing!