By now it’s an almost certainty that you’ve seen this controversial “religion vs. relationship” video. But on the off-chance that you’ve been fasting from the Internet (then how are you reading this?) or have stubbornly refused to update to the newest version of Flash these last 7 years, here it is for your viewing pleasure.
(Uh, you’d have to update to the newest version of Flash…)
It’s a polarizing video, whether you’re one of the 165,623 people who like it or one of the 20,234 who dislike it. When I first came across the video, I only made it halfway through before stopping and moving onto another Internet chore.
Why didn’t I finish the video? Because I knew it was just another wearying religion vs. relationship debate in the making.
And I can’t stand arguments. Especially among Christians.
I don’t normally write argument-inducing posts because I hate confrontation. If a waiter gives me the wrong order, I’m much too bashful to complain and I’ll try my best to stomach down those frog legs.
So feel free to comment with your thoughts after I finish sharing mine, but realize that I don’t plan on confronting you.
Mmmm frog legs…
I hate the religion vs. relationship argument not because I ardently support one word over the other, but because it always boils down to the fact that the word “religion” means something different to every single person.
To some, Christianity is no different from Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism or Bieber Fever as a way of life.
And to others, Christianity is way different than Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism or Bieber Fever because Christianity is right while all those other religions are wrong. Well, Bieber Fever is sorta right since J. Biebs is a Christian. But I digress.
For this second group of people, Christianity isn’t religion because as Mr. Poet Rapper Guy titles his video, Jesus > Religion.
But again, it all depends what you define “religion” as.
- Does “religion” involve following a God or Gods?
- Does “religion” involve church and prayer and following rules in holy books?
- Does “religion” skip that other stuff and only focus on the rules?
- Is “religion” strictly how you fill in that blank on your Facebook profile, and nothing more?
Do I believe in God? Do I believe God sent His one and only Son — indeed, Himself — to live, die, and conquer death? Do I believe His words have been transcribed onto pages thousands of years old? Do I believe in a spiritual brotherhood and sisterhood? Do I believe in an eternal destination beyond death?
Yeah. I do. All of it. Does that make me religious? I don’t know; you tell me.
Personally, I’ve never once thought myself “religious.” I don’t know, it just feels like a weird and impersonal way to describe my relationship with God.
You could look at all those “religious” facts about me and call me otherwise, sure. But I could care less if your definition of “religious” strictly adheres to what Ms. Merriam-hyphen-Webster says or as is prone in culture, have crafted your own unique definition of this word.
I’m white, but never think of myself as “Caucasian.” I’m also a quarter Mexican, which some might say makes me “Mexican,” but I have never once filled in that “Hispanic/Latino” bubble on job applications. But I’m sure countless quarter-Mexicans would disagree and have — wait, should I have bubbled that? Have I been living a Latino lie all these years? WHAT AM I?
Sure, if believing and doing everything I believe and do seems religious to you, then I’m religious. That’s great. So how are you doing today?
I’ve been raised in the “relationship, not religion” sect of Christianity, but I’m certainly not opposed to another person calling himself or herself or me or Christianity religious.
I eventually watched the entire video and thought Mr. Poet Rapper Guy raised some sobering points. But whether Jesus > Religion, Jesus < Religion, or Jesus = Religion, it’s all semantics.
These arguments never go anywhere. All they do is make the rest of the world shake their heads and roll their eyes because those silly Christians are at it again, so petty, arguing about what they are or aren’t.
One of the many reasons I fell in love with my YouthWorks summer in Milwaukee was because religious Christians and relationship Christians of all denominations came together as one to minister in nursing homes, soup kitchens, and homeless refuges.
Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans — everyone put aside their theological differences or petty personal preferences and served some very needy people in the city of Milwaukee.
So can we put down our dictionaries and microphones and love each other and this hurting world? Together? As one?
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:25