Reflections

The Ease of Religion

I’ve been wrestling with the question: which is emotionally and spiritually healthier, following a plan or following your heart?  I would argue that it is following your heart.  Our heart is the core of who we are. From it flows life. As such, our heart is passion and emotion which can be influenced to the point where we almost fear what lurks within. But that is what makes it so exciting and why it is so important to be guarded.

A plan, on the other hand, is a plan. It gives structure and provides guidance and helps train the heart.  But here’s the rub: when I place the plan over the heart what tends to happen is that the plan quickly replaces the heart and our focus moves from massaging the heart to executing the plan and sustaining the system we created.  This transition happens all too quickly and all too often. . .especially in the arena of spirituality.

The plan to which most all of us have unwittingly surrendered is religion. At its essence, religion is a structure (a plan) to help us orient our lives to the life of God.  But it falls woefully short of God’s desire for our hearts. I just finished reading the Old Testament book of Leviticus. Leviticus is all about rules and regulations. In fact, very cool and ancient rituals and practices which pointed to a greater reality than I think the Jews were prepared to see; a reality which lies at the heart of the universe and the heart of every human who has ever lived – God and humanity in an inseparable relationship of love.  Those ancient practices were designed by God himself to prepare and protect the heart of the people in their life with God. But those practices became an end in themselves and what became important was detailed obedience to the laws.

And before I become too harsh on ancient Israel, I admit this tendency resides within me and against which I fight daily.  What about you? Have you asked yourself lately “why do I go to church?” “why do I read my bible?” “why do I give financially to my church or other charitable organizations?” “why do I attend a small group?” “why do I . . .” you fill in the blank.  These are all good practices but are they really helping my heart connect with the heart of God?  See, in many ways, religion is easy.  It is much easier to maintain a list of activities and exercises than it is to live from a heart which is full and free.  As a spiritual leader, it is much easier to prescribe a list of ‘disciplines’ or ‘growth plans’ than it is to invite people to live from their heart or to train them to develop and protect their heart.  Unfortunately, people tend to ‘live down’ to the bare minimum of expectation than to live up to the fullness of the heart.  This is true in all religions – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and even Mormonism.

The Kaleo Life is about living from the fullness of the heart. Using religion and religious practices to strengthen the heart without being burdened with the weight of religion. In the words of the early church when confronted with the same tension: “why test God by putting on the necks of God-followers a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved” (Acts 15:10-11).

How are you doing at living the Kaleo Life? Are you walking the more difficult yet emotionally and spiritually satisfying life of the heart? OR are you simply living the life prescribed you by others in the ease of religion?

Share with us your attempts, your struggles, your victories. We’d love to hear from you.

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