“So just what religion are you?” I had a man ask me on the street the other day.
“Christian.” I responded.
“That’s not what I mean. Where do you go to church? Are you a Baptist or something?”
“No.” I responded. “I am a Christian…a believer…a follower of Jesus Christ. I don’t consider myself a part of any organized religious organization.”
“So you don’t go to church?” He persisted.
“Well, sort of. You see I believe that we as individuals make up the church. Church isn’t some place you go but something you are part of. We are all part of the Body of Jesus…the Body of Christ.”
“Communion?” He said.
“I used to go to church and I thought that communion was the body of Christ. That’s what they taught me when I was in Sunday school. The blood and body of Jesus. The minister gave it to us at the end of the service.”
(WOW. Not sure who’s head was spinning more.)
“That’s not the same thing.” I continued. “Communion is a religious ceremony…a means by which man tries to get closer to God. Communion is really pretty meaningless if you are not part of the church.”
“So you do go to church? Where? What religion are you?”
I took a deep breath mixed with prayer. “Religion is a set of rules and regulations designed to control the people. Some of them are good, but most of them are simply traditions. That is where people get confused. Religion is rule following. Christianity is a relationship.”
“Who forgives your sins?” He asked.
“If you don’t go to church who forgives you of your sins?
“Jesus does. That’s what it means to be born again. Accepting Christ as your Savior makes you a member of His church…the Body.”
“So you do go to church.”
“Look Mike. Christianity is not a religion. That is why there are so many different churches in the world. Each church has their own set of rules and regulations that they think you are supposed to follow. Some things all churches agree on…somethings they don’t. That’s why there are different churches and different religions”
“So what do you believe?” He asked me. “If you don’t go to church how do you know what rules to follow?”
‘That’s why I read the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word and that is where we learn how to live?”
“Who teaches you what the Bibles says?”
“I read it for myself.”
“What? How do you understand what it says? Who explains it to you?”
“The Holy Spirit.”
“Huh?” Who explains what the Bible says? Do you have some special training that taught you what the Bible says?”
“No. The Bible is God’s Word and He wrote it so that we could read it. Parts of it can be confusing but if you have received Christ the Spirit will direct your steps. You may need help understanding some things but you will find God in the Bible…not in the church building that you attend.”
“But I thought they called the church the house of God…how can you know Him if you don’t go to his house?”
“I am the house of God. God is a Spirit and He lives inside me. Sort of like breath in my lungs. As part of His body His breath flows through me. He lives in me. I am His temple…his church. You see, it isn’t the church building that saves you it is the Spirit of God that saves you. A lot of people who go to church don’t know Jesus and that is why they think they have to go to the church to visit Him. He lives inside of every believer. That is what it means that we are the body of Christ.”
“I’m confused.” He lamented. “I have never heard any of this talk before and I was in church regularly when I was a kid. No one ever told me anything about no relationship with Jesus.”
“Well, Mike, going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sleeping in a chicken coop makes you a rooster. It is about being born again and having a relationship with Christ. It is open and available to whosever wants to be part of the family.”
“Dang…that is so cool. I’d love to learn more about it. Where did you say you go to church?”
Sooo many are lost in religion.