30 January 2010

"Is this the Religious section?"

This week I was volunteering for the co-ordinator who leads scripture teaching at my local church.

It was an early start after a late night, a draining week at work and required a lot of energy, time and effort. After picking up 4 boxes of books for the entire school year and missing breakfast to make it on time, we soon set up and got underway selling the books for the year to stressed, busy parents and their kids first week of school.

On one side of the long table was the Anglican books and the other side the Catholic books, which was run by different classes, teachers, curriculum's and churches. Parents could choose which denomination to send their children for the year, which is not a mandatory subject, with a slight majority choosing the Anglican classes.

The four sides of the hall where all the schools books were sold for the year were divided into different subjects and categories. Midway throughout the busy morning a lady approached our table and asked quite bluntly, “Is this the Religious section?” I didn’t think much of it at the time but on reflection driving home I couldn’t help smiling and laughing at her statement.

It didn’t matter to her that the team were all made up of volunteers, with our own busy lives, happily serving with a smile, total strangers united by our faith in Christ. It didn’t matter that I missed breakfast that morning or that it was my one day off this week. And it didn’t matter that it was a sacrifice to be standing there that day only to be called 'religious'...


I don’t believe for one second that Jesus was religious. He was a man of sacrificial love, abundant grace, and extravagant mercy. He healed the sick, visited the needy, forgave the outcasts of society and died on a cruel cross for the Salvation of mankind.

If anyone was religious it was the Pharisees who demanded that their laws and rules be obeyed without question. They were the ones who had no love, no grace and no mercy. They were the ones who did not heal or visit the needy who were bound by their circumstances based on their position in society. And they were the ones who could not forgive those who might have made some bad decisions in life, easily influenced by the pressures and injustices of their broken world.

Perhaps this lady could be mistaken for having a bad day, under the stress of the moment, or struggling to make ends meet to pay for two books for $5 that would last the entire year for her child’s education.

Or perhaps I could have mentioned that this book might be the most life changing influence on their life, affecting the beliefs and values they live by for the rest of their life. Or that the class would be at the very least helpful and encouraging, or at the most inspirational and play a profound impact on their life for the next 70+ years?

I believe her question was incorrect. How can a handful of genuine people, sacrificing so much of their time, expecting nothing in return, with their only motive being their passion to teach kids about Christ be called religious? ‘Religion’ does not have true faith or live a life of good works. Religion is not sacrificial or full of love, grace and mercy. I believe her question should have been rather “Is this the Faith section?”

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