When I speak of losing my religion, I am not talking about turning my back on God, renouncing my faith in Christ or rejecting authentic Christianity but letting go of all the religious baggage and church burdens we have added on to our salvation over the centuries.
I no longer buy into the empty traditions of men which have turned a great deal of Christianity into “Churchanity” with its own set of religious duties, do’s and don’ts, ritualism, religiosity and performance demands. No matter how polished, refined, contemporary, sensational or trendy you make it, it is still a far cry from the simplicity in Christ the early church knew and experienced. Authentic Christianity was never meant to be just another religious regimen to follow. Much of what we embrace today without question is largely a “form of godliness” handed down over the years from the traditions of men and pagan observances which are largely powerless. Authentic Christianity was meant to be a vibrant, personal relationship through faith in a living savior.
After 52 years on this Christian pilgrimage, I can look back and honestly say that much of the “churchiness” I bought into over the years and accepted without question had far more to do with “churchanity” than authentic Christianity. What most of us took for granted and swallowed hook, line and sinker actually has little to do with the New Testament example of the early church. In fact, if Jesus, the apostles and the early Christians were to see all that we do under the banner of “church” they wouldn’t recognize it.
I have also come to the sobering conclusion that today’s church including denominationalism, evangelicals, fundamentalists, charismatics, independent and the tidal wave of hyped sensation churches are so much more but so much less of what authentic Christianity was meant to be. It has a lot to do with church life, church programs, church commitments, church hype, church fads, pastoral expectations, performance driven Christianity, self-serving agendas, spiritual quotas, religious rituals and outright legalism than the simplicity in Christ that God has called us to.
I look back with years of accumulated experience and discernment and can see very clearly that what I once wholeheartedly practiced, believed the bible taught and ministered the same often had little to do with Christian authenticity, our faith or our simplicity in Christ. It was based more on the religious traditions of men that had been handed down over the centuries without question. Much of it was little more than refined legalism in sheep’s clothing and paganized Christianity. For all intents and purposes, it was largely as Paul said, “Having a form of godliness but denying the power therein.” We deny the power when we settle for canned religion, artificiality and spiritual posturing over Christian authenticity.
To be sure, I was committed, dedicated and disciplined but the contrived church-life I bought into and the life I lived had much more to do with “churchanity”, performing as a Christian and playing church than living a simple, Christlike life each day. Often it had to do more with the high praises of lip-service than faithful servanthood and accountability before Him in simple faith.
It really doesn’t matter in which brand of Church life you find it - Churchanity and authentic Christianity are two very different experiences. Though there is often an overlap the essence of each is radically opposed. If the truth be known, one of the greatest hoax’s perpetrated among men is the belief that the man-made trappings of the traditional church model in all its forms, religious ritualism and traditions of men are ordained by God or indispensable to our salvation.