This week our daughter will be dedicated at our church. This isn't about securing salvation on her behalf, or even some pre-requisites for a future school admission or UN security council position. This is about a commitment to sharing our faith as we bring up our kids.
The zeitgeist has lost its appetite for religion and faith, but it is such a big part of who I am and how I see the world. I love the quote from CS Lewis that says “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
There are many strange dishes on offer at the Religion buffet. Even Jedism is now on the menu, thanks to an Internet campaign and Star Wars fans (who would have thought those two could work together?).
I do few things in life really well, but one of the things I have mastered is eating. Stick me at an inner city food truck line-up and I am as happy as a hipster on a pulled-pork-powered fixie.
But for some people this environment can be overwhelming, too many options, so many choices. Dancing Deano’s Doughdogs! El Capo Crab n Cheese! Frozen Dumpling Yoghurt! Big Jung’s Southern-style Korean BBQ fish ribs! It is a sad fact that Melbourne now has more food trucks than ambulances.
I like to think It is a lot like this with religions. Today you’ll have the Jewish Jam Donut Van parked next to the Islamic Ice Cream truck across from the Hindu Hotdogs and the Buddhist Burger Co, along with the Christian Caravan of Crunch. So many options, all seeming to do things differently but ultimately offering the same thing – access to God.
For me, what makes Christianity so crunchy and keeps the crowds returning over the centuries despite the critics, despite the trends is a thing called grace, served up by a man called Jesus.
The guy who once said “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
If I am honest, I don't believe in religion. By religion I mean any systematic structure that constantly has me in a debt/payment relationship with God, one that I can never be free from or fully live up to.
It seems religion is all about things I need to do to get right with God. It can be an exhausting, boring, difficult, expensive, tasteless, embarrassing and weird task depending on which one you choose to follow.
I do believe in Jesus though; His life, death and resurrection. I believe Him when He said that He was the Son of God, that He came to forgive and die for my sins and give me life to the full.
Where religion says getting right with God will take this and cost that, Jesus says, “It took me.”
Romans 5:8 covers it “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This is the grace of God and it is grace that separates Christianity from all the other world religions… along with those stupid fish stickers, a penchant for flannel shirts and overuse of the word ‘Awesome’.
Grace rolls the whole food van of religion over. Traditionally, religion says that God doesn't love you until you have atoned or reached enlightenment. Grace says despite how stuffed up you are, God loves you where you are at, and points to Jesus as proof.
I feast on this concept of grace. That it is not about what I do, but what has been done by Jesus that leaves me right with God.
Grace is the main ingredient of Christianity. Grace says no more queuing, no more chasing, no more paying, no more hunger. Eat once and be satisfied.