What rhythm we are living by has huge implications for who we end up being, what we end up doing and who we end up becoming, and how we see God is fundamental to that, because I’ve begun to see that changing our lives to God’s rhythm might mean leaving oir traditional view of religion behind.
Rhythm is a discipline. We all have disciplines we live by, whether we realise it or not.
We have little habits, rhythms, things we do every day at certain times – washing, eating, sleeping – and these are disciplines even if we don’t realise it. The word discipline gets a bad rap. When we hear that word we respond with fear, like we’ve done something wrong. Our ideas of discipline often involve school teachers, people being harsh with us, or having to do something we don’t want to do. It has very negative connotations.
But a discipline is not that. It’s essentially a decision to do something on a regular basis. It’s basically the implimentation of a new rhythm to your lives.
What I believe has happened with the Christian faith a lot of the time is that we have this old concept of discipline – a religious one. Because we live in a religious culture, we live in a culture which basically follows this concept. You do something, something happens in return for that. If you do a certain number of things, follow a certain set of rules, then certain things will happen. The Christian faith is often modelled to us this way, and we are taught that as long as we do certain things God will be pleased, and if we don’t do certain things we are going to be punished for all eternity in hell.
Honestly, this sounds such a limited view of God, and to me is totally at odds with a God of grace and love.
This is a faith based on fear.
This fear can essentially govern everything we do – and its not a healthy fear of the Lord, its actually a selfish fear. Because many people who believe in Jesus and try to follow Him and ‘do the Christian thing’ do so because they are scared they are going to go to hell. They are scared about what will happen to them if they don’t.
I am convinced that many many people who call themselves Christians, and love Jesus, have come into faith not as a response to grace, but as a response to fear.
But if our faith is merely a response to fear, it means that no matter what we do, its never going to be a genuine love response, its never going to be a true act of love or service to others. Jesus tells us to love one another, to love one another as we love ourselves. He knew when he said that that we all have tendencies to put ourselves first, so appealed to that concept to help us understand how much we need to love others.
Jesus wants us to love one other, to serve one another, to stand against injustice. But Jesus didn’t want us to do this because of fear of what would happen if we didn’t, but because that’s the best way to live.
He wanted it to be our genuine heart reaction.
His invitation to us was the cross & the resurrection. He now wants us to live in response to His love and grace for us. The Bible says that the cross has reconciled all things – and the proper meaning of that term is ‘all things’. Literally everything. God has reconciled all things, its all done.
Our job is merely to respond to that, in love.
To say yes to that invitation and then to join God in His plan for restoring the world, to change the rhythm of your life to the one you were made for, not the one you’ve been brought up to believe or the one our culture tries to convince you is true.
The call is to love God first, and love others before yourself. Not because if you don’t you’ll go to hell, but becuase that’s how you were always made to live. To join your story to God’s story and change your life.
We are free through the cross, and we have the freedom to choose how to live any way we want. We can respond to the cross any way we choose. We can choose to ignore it, reject it and live according to the rhythms – and disciplines – of the world, of religion, of our culture.
Or we can choose God’s way.Which is bigger than any organised religion, including Christianity. You can’t fit Jesus or the way of Jesus or a relationship with Jesus into a religion, certainly not as most people define a religion.
I think this idea of faith as a response to fear v a response to love & grace is crucial to the Christian faith, what we believe and how we live, and deserves further examination. But there is one thing I realised as I was examining this that I want to delve into here, which is equally important.
As I was pondering all this, it hit me. Religion isn’t the problem, its that we try to fit Jesus into one, when actually religion is just part of the way of Jesus.
Religion is essentially the discipline of the rhythm of our lives
I don’t believe that the way of Jesus is a religion. I believe that religion is a way to explain the disciplines and rhythms of the way of Jesus, but its not the way of Jesus itself and it can’t contain Jesus, and it can’t contain God or our relationship to Him.
Like science and theology, its part of the way of Jesus, its part of how we meet with Jesus, its the practice and rhythm of our faith. But its not the point. We don’t really need to use the term, but it does help us explain it, so bear with me.
It helps us explain and understand the point but its not the point itself.
The point is Jesus, and real relationship with Him and encounters with Him, which we can do anywhere, in anything, with anyone, in any circumstance or conversation, if we are looking for Him. The point is living a life as a response to grace rather than trying to do the right thing so we get to the right place when we die, knowing that we are free.
We need to re-examine what we mean by religion. Religion as we often define it is a set of rules and regulations you stick to so that you get some positive outcome at the end for yourself – and it has it’s god, whoever that is, who defines these rules and regulations and the outcome. We all have a god, we all do this one way or another – if you say you don’t, well that’s another kind of religion. Secularism and consumerism are the religion of ‘i-’. Its a me-centred religion. We are all gods and we define our values, what rules we live by and expect certain consequences as a result.
Religion is what defines the rhythm – what we choose to let define the rhythm. And often I think people mistake their concept of God, or the religion of Christianity, as something which defines the rhythm rather than God Himself – and letting God define our ‘religion’ rather than Christianity.
There is a huge difference.
Proper religion – the religion of Jesus – isn’t restrictive it’s liberating.
It’s not about doing things so that you get a positive outcome for you, its about living a certain way because its the best way to live. It’s the best way for you to live, so it’s best for you, but that’s not the point, the point is that what’s best for you is to forget yourself and love others and put them first.
Its a willing response to an act of love knowing that even if you screw up that you are loved, accepted, welcomed and have infinte worth just as you are.
That kind of religion sounds much better to me. It’s not religion in the traditional sense. It’s religion as Jesus intended. It’s discipline as Jesus intended. A new rhythm for our lives.
Because, essentially, religion is rhythm.
Is your faith in Jesus a response to fear or love?
What are you basing the rhythm of your life on?