The Jesus Life is Not the Church Life or Religious Life!

by Stephen W. SmithThe Jesus Life is not a religious life. It's not the church life either. Let me explain.The population of the world at present, over 6.6 billion people, practice one of the five great religions  found in the world today: Buddhism Christianity Hinduism Judaism and Islam. There are other religions found across the world but these five comprise the most adherents. Within each of these religions there are many sub-divisions and sects.Christianity, for example has three major branches within Christian beliefs: Roman Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox. The protestant branch holds over 250 different denominations, which vary in certain beliefs and practices. Protestants do not agree on various forms of baptism, views about communion or the Eucharist, church polity and more. Fights, schisms and splits among particular groups continue to this day where battle lines, doctrinal purity and politics all make fodder for the fire in the heated debates over who is really right.Drive across the landscape of America on a typical Sunday morning and you’ll find small, medium, large, mega and multi-site congregations who are gathered together to ask the Lord’s blessing.  But what is true is this: despite the efforts to evangelize; publicity to grow, programs to train and techniques to sustain, 80% of churches in America are declining. Something is wrong.Key findings in the a nationwide survey, conducted in August, 2009 revealed that people in America, age 18-29 are giving up on the church:•65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.•65% rarely or never attend worship services.•67% don't read the Bible or sacred texts.One researcher said, "We have dumbed down what it means to be part of the church so much that it means almost nothing, even to people who already say they are part of the church," [1]Something is wrong with religion in America. We may not be getting what we signed up for and we are looking for something else. More are turning away from the church than are entering the front doors.Try Harder!All major world religions contain various aspects of people trying to do what they are told to do. It is this “trying” that best differentiates the Jesus Life from other major religions. No doubt many of us who are Christians have tried, then tried harder and then signed up again for more classes and seminars and bought more books promising that if we “try this” then we can finally…Enough already! While religions offer programs, tips and techniques on how to try harder,  follow the rules more passionately,  become better or finally achieve a certain level, the Jesus life I am describing here is not about trying harder.Read Paul’s words to the followers of Jesus in a place called, Colosse, “My counsel for you is simple and straight forward; Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. [Emphasis NOT mine]. Live him. Live him? What in the world does that mean? Paul goes on to explain, “You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. Schools out; quit studying the subject and start living it [Emphasis NOT mine.]The real call for those who follow Jesus is to live the life we were called to live and continue living it throughout our lives.On one of my more recent decisions and efforts to lose weight, I joined the Y, again. I was determined this time. Motivated by an ever-expanding waist line, I felt like everything had come together for me to have victory. I bought new shoes, shorts and several T-shirts and started on a supervised regimen, even with a Trainer who weighed me; motivated me and said he was “there for me.” After four weeks of working 30 minutes on the treadmill, the tendons in my ankle began to hurt and ache. I began to take anti-inflammatory, over the counter drugs to help me push through to reach my goal. The pain got so unbearable, I quit going to the gym and finally went to see an Orthopedic specialist to diagnosis what was going on. I had worked my muscles in my feet so much that “severe tendonitis” was what the doctor told me. I had to rest,  keep off my feet as much as possible and take an even prescribed drug which would work better than what I was able to take on my own. Sometimes, our best efforts result in pain and more loss—not of weight but of desire to try again. We give up.The life we want seems so out of reach that we settle down, sit down and resign ourselves that this may just be as good as it gets.I'd welcome your comments. This is new writing for a new book to be published in 2012. All Rights Reserved!

[1] Accessed April 28, 2010.