That’s a strange title for someone who’s supposed to be a Christian writer, but it’s the truth. Wars are fought over theologies; people are burned and tortured all in the name of religion. In some countries, civil law is based on religious law and people can be killed for committing the sin of adultery (usually only the women, I notice). Crusades, Jihad, the Peasant’s revolution during the Reformation were all fought in the name of a God who is supposed to be the embodiment of love itself.
Rather than a relationship with God, “religion” is often reduced to a set of rules or formulas. If I go to church every Sunday and tithe faithfully, God will not allow anything bad to happen to me. There are preachers who believe if your faith is strong enough, God will grant your every wish – a “name it and claim, it” theology.
Sometimes non believers will condescend to acknowledge that “some” people get a lot of comfort from religion and that’s fine for them. They have no place for “religion” in their lives. After all, if God is all good, how can He allow such awful things like tornadoes and floods to happen? Is He powerless or doesn’t He care? Why bother with Him? Maybe He doesn’t even exist.
I started to imagine what it would be like to have a God who granted my every wish; who protected me from harm all the time; who answered my every prayer. I realized that in my fractured humanity, I would soon think of that God as a faithful butler – an all powerful, benign Jeeves at my service. After a while I wouldn’t respect or fear Him. I would begin to think I was the master and not He. To be honest, I would turn into a horror.
And what, in a life where I and my loved ones are saved from all harm, would burn the dross from my soul? What would force me to be gentle when instead I want to assert my authority? What experience would make me stronger because I actually lived through a horrific event? What would make me admit my helplessness and force me to trust God? If all the bad things were removed from my life, how could I learn to walk by faith and not by sight? What would enable me to step out in courage, knowing that even if I will die, I will live?
Forget religion. I don’t need religion. What I need in life flows from a sovereign God I love and try to obey – unfortunately not very well most times. That’s why I need mercy and not religion.