I admit it, church-people sometimes drive me crazy. I have a much harder time loving people that have gone to church their entire lives, than I often do the pot-smoking, social alcoholic freshmen we sometimes work with at Ohio State. I'm not alone; want to guess who the people Jesus was constantly in debates with? The same people that crucified him, the religious people!
The difference is faith vs religion I think. Melissa and I have talked about this for quite some time with a great deal of people. Faith is what makes you move and think and be. It stirs your heart and is the core of who you are. Religion is just something you do. It's a hobby, a part-time thing that has no bearing on your inner-self. We most likely all know some religious people. They love to claim Christian values (usually no smoking/drinking type values which aren't Christian per se, but that's neither here nor there). They love to be seen at church and seen as important people in the church. They love to thump you with the Bible, though they've usually failed to search it for themselves, they're simply passing on information they've heard before. Often they belong to a particular denomination or sub-division within Christianity, and preach it to others, though really they've not researched, explored, or sought out anything other than their particular group.
I hesitate to say this, but they remind me of Muslims a great deal. When Melissa and I spent a year in Central Asia we daily ran into this type of Islam. Not the fanatical, but the kind that was based more on culture and religion than based on faith. They were Islamic because that's what they were raised. They adhered to it because, well, everyone else did. Few people prayed five times a day; fewer still took part in ramadan, the 40 day fast. Very, very randomly would we ever meet someone who desired and planned to journey to Mecca in their life (which is one the five pillars of Islam). Those people I loved interacting with. I would think, "finally, here is someone that is not completely hypocritical in their religious convictions."
Don't be religious. Be faithful. Don't go to church, be it Catholic, Assemblies of God, Methodist, Lutheran or whathaveyou. Go to church because you believe it to be true or you're a lying hypocrit before you even walk in the door. Or go because you're curious to know and explore what they believe. Or if you've stumbled across this blog, talk to me, I'd love to show you some faithful people, and talk of true faith in the risen Christ.
I'm going to post the next couple days on a few things that irk me about religious people and religious churches as opposed to faith-driven people and faith-driven churches.