We like to think we are living free of religion. Our culture is definitely trying to live free of religion. Us church workers see church attendance dropping. Particularly us old church workers. As we are making our way to church every Sunday morning we drive past the many who are not making their way to church. We can all hope that they went to a Saturday evening service somewhere which is why they are doing yardwork or are running. But us old church workers also know that the trend of Saturday night services is dying because of this church attendance problem. (Note: Having a Saturday night service did not fix this problem.)
But our very DNA wants us to have a religion. This is something innate inside of us. So while we bash the religion word, our body is doing whatever our body does to keep us in religion.
This news is not good for our bodies.
This new religion that has been created is hard on our souls, hearts, and bodies.
Because our DNA craves for us to have a religion and culturally we are doing everything we can to dismiss church as religion, we have simply created new a religion.
This religion is very popular and exhausting us—as every religion of works is.
I’m not talking about alternative religions like Buddhism. I’m talking about this new religion I’m calling Enoughness.
Let’s start with a good definition of religion: “a controlling story” or “the question of how we dispose our energies, how we see fit to organize our own lives and, in many cases, the lives of others.” Religion is a collective for the greater good.
Religion answers two questions: Am I good? Who is my tribe?
Religion is part filter–how do you organize your life; how do you make your decisions; what is important? It is also what we lean on to tell us that we’re okay and that our lives matter. It is the justification of our lives.
We also need our tribe to reinforce all of this. Do you belong? Am I loveable? Am I worth loving? The tribe that we find answers all of those heart questions is the one we choose.
Church used to play this role. But then we decided we would rather be spiritual than religious (and good reasons for that, read on) and then we decided that we simply no longer needed church to be an authority in our lives.
What has replaced church is so much worse than the long list of reasons we all have against church because church has disappointed us.
The great irony of the Christian faith is that Jesus says you aren’t good and you are still my tribe. More on that coming. The way of Jesus is not the new religion we are creating because we have become our savior.
I’m calling this new savior-less religion Enoughness.
Listen carefully and you will hear the word enough everywhere. Such as I am never good enough; never thin enough; never powerful enough; never rich enough; never smart enough; never extraordinary enough. So this becomes our hustle. Our religion. Our filter of “am I good?” and “who is my tribe?”
Our culture is one of scarcity. We believe that were we to reach some goal in our minds, then value, vindication, and love would be ours. That if we got enough, become enough, then we would be enough.
We have created religions out of work, romance, parenting, technology, and even food. Yes, food.
Being a foodie has become a thing. A religion! A thing that defines you. Food has become something that expresses your values. Your grocery choices are a reflection of your identity. And there are rules. And shame! You can’t be a foodie and still eat a twinkie. There is so much effort to try to fit in just with your food. Who has ever felt judged for the groceries in your grocery cart?
I’ve been a youth pastor for nearly 40 years. I’ve seen this religion of parenting grow and smother parents. (Parents, find encouragement here.)
Scarcity is waking up in the morning and already feeling like you have let down those you love before you even get out of bed. Then the hustle of the day begins. The worship practices of Enoughness begins.
This god asks for continual sacrifice from us and it is never enough.
There is a new way. Actually it is an old way. It is the way of Jesus. The very way that has been dismissed as “old-fashioned,” uncool and judgmental.
Our DNA cries out for a religion with a savior who is not us.
As beautifully written in The Message version of the Bible: And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18.
Questions to ask yourself (or your small group because this would be a great discussion):
- Why have people stopped going to church?
- Did people actually think we could be free of religion? Did you?
- How is Enoughness like a religion?
- How is Enoughness a religion of works?
- How is Enoughness hard on our soul, heart and body?
- What are the scarcity voices in your life?
- Who are the people in your tribe that are keeping you in scarcity?