Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Comfort of Religion

As a part of our life together many of us at Cortland UMC have been reading through the New Testament together. The more I read the more I have a dilemma to wrestle with. Jesus was constantly and consistently challenging the religious establishments of the day. Now some two thousand years later and the same is happening. The dilemma is now I am tied to the religious establishment. This is not a happy dilemma for me, because I realize religion is killing the church, and mission of God. Why?

I can only speak from my own experience. One word and one word alone keeps us in the confines of religion, comfort. Found in religion is a comfort the we cannot always explain. Religion often tells us how to think and act. We do not have to seek, or strive to hear from God, we simply do what we did last week, which is what we have been doing for weeks, years decade and centuries. There is not need in religion to seek understanding and challenge our thoughts, because religion will tell you have to think and understand. There simply is not a lot of guess work of effort required for religion to thrive. All of this allows for comfort.

I wonder if it was comfortable to be a disciple of Jesus as he overturned the tables in the Temple? I wonder if it was comfortable to be a disciple of Jesus as he challenged the religious teachers of the day? Was it comfortable as mobs ran Jesus out of town? Was it comfortable when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis to the door at Wittenburg? Was it comfortable for Mother Theresa to be in the slums of Calcutta?

I guess that is the point this morning. Following Jesus has never been about comfort. It have never really been about what we have always done. Never has it really been about human preference and desire. Following Jesus has always been about doing the work of God above all else. Our present day comfort however, has caused the church in the to found as impotent. Why? Because the church would rather exist in comfort rather than move out of the Lazy Boy of faith in do the work of God. We would rather have the answers given to us, and walk away unaffected by the whole thing.

As long as there is comfort in religion, the church will fail to reach the potential God has set it aside for. Until religion dies, comfort will reign and the church will continue to die. Fear not, the work of God will not die, that will continue with or without us. Humanity has not the capacity to stop the work of God. Yet how many of us will miss out on the fullness God longs for all of us to experience?

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