Watching and listening to my sister-in-law Jennifer preach and teach at Hosanna Lutheran Church in Lakeville (http://www.hosannalc.org/).
She says: “Christianity was never intended to be another religion. Being a follower of Jesus is not another religion. It is a relationship.”
A religion is a list of DOs that we must do to please God, and a religion is a list of DON’Ts that try to not break this law code.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Emily (my wife) and I recently made a decision to not baptize Maddox, our 3 month old, and rather dedicate him.
Now, there are a lot smarter people who can write, speak, and talk through their beliefs in either infant baptism, adult baptism, or some form of both. So I’m not going to try to argue one position or the other.
However, in short, I believe two things:
* Baptism is about celebrating “outwardly what God has done inwardly.”
* This not a “die for” issue. There is a lot of gray area.
A religion causes families, friends, and churches to split over their beliefs in one version or the other. Either way you slice it, if one group (infant v. adult) decides the other is so wrong they are unwilling to stay on the same team, this is what religion destroys.
Religion divides people over issues like baptism; Relationships unite people despite differences.
A religion causes people to declare war; Relationships cause people to offer a treaty.
A religion divides churches over non-die for issues, like baptism, communion, style of worship; A relationship with Christ recognizes that Christ died for love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
Of course, there are some issues (the person/deity of Christ, the work of Christ, the worth of people in God’s eyes) that are worth dividing over. But outside of those that involve the worth of people and the work of Jesus Christ, all else is garbage in comparison.
Now granted, I have my opinions. Obviously, we have an opinion to decide that Maddox should be dedicated, and not baptized. I have opinions about worship, communion, and the purpose of the Church.
But at the end of the day, many of those issues are just about a religion. And religion divides.
Jesus + nothing = Everything.
Not baptism beliefs. Not worship style differences. Not communion beliefs.
A relationship with Jesus is everything. A religion is nothing.