10268443_10152038104421179_3330103288875436680_nI sat down a few days ago to watch a movie with my kids. After a flip of a coin they landed on watching the first Ice Age. I hadn’t seen this movie in awhile. In fact, I couldn’t even remember if I really liked it, but I popped it in and settled myself on the couch next to my two oldest girls. We weren’t far into the movie when the following dialog takes place between Sid and Manny…

Sid: Hey, what’s your problem?
Manny: *You* are my problem.
Sid: Well, I think you’re stressed, and that’s why you eat so much. I mean, it’s hard to get fat on a vegan diet.
Manny: I’m not fat. It’s all this fur. It makes me look… poofy.
Sid: Fine. You have fat hair. But when you’re ready to talk, I’m here.

I resisted the urge to start scribbling away because this was them time and not me time. But I tried to grasp onto every idea that surfaced during that moment.

I couldn’t help but compare Manny’s fat hair issue to what it means to be religious. It makes us appear like something we’re not. When we try to abide by the rules day in and day out it’s like throwing on another layer of concealer. We’re attempting to cover the mark by masking it with something else.

Knowing Christ isn’t about covering anything up. Knowing Christ is to have washed away that mark completely. It’s about starting with a fresh body. While we will always have fleshly tendencies (temptations, longings, the idea of choosing what is easiest) we don’t have to incline our hearts in such a way that we follow through on those things.

I thought of a conversation that recently took place where someone awkwardly referred to me as “pretty religious.” I almost snorted. Oh, but there is no comparison. Religious Christians. That’s one of the greatest oxymorons in existence. They just don’t belong together.

I hear all of my non-Christian friends laughing at me now. And as much as that hurts, it’s an understandable thing. Before I experienced Christ as I know Christ now I was laughing too.

Kind of.

I’d like to think of it as more of a chuckle because I was too scared to give up the belief that was born into my heart at a young age. “What is this faith you speak of?” I would think to myself. I had a vibrant curiosity for it, but it would be years later before I would have any idea what to do with that belief.

There finally came a time when I needed to truly understand what it meant to be religious. And once I could grasp the concept behind it I realized that it just wasn’t for me.

We try so hard to do it ourselves. We attempt to follow guidelines and walk narrow paths, sucking in the air when the squeeze gets a little too tight. Trying to be good. To love others. To stay married. To become great parents. To abstain from anything that might hook us into addiction. …but it doesn’t work that way.

You can’t get spiritually fat on a diet that consists of rules and regulations.

And quite honestly, that has to be completely exhausting.

The key to it all is in Sid’s final words above. While reluctant to agree with Manny’s insistent plea for having fat hair, he says “fine – but when you’re ready to talk, I’m here.”

Knowing Christ means accepting Him and having a relationship with Him. By engaging in conversation with Him through prayer. By reading the Word to learn about Who He really is.

And it’s through the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes this possible. Through that Spirit (which is a He, by the way) we are able to carry on an astounding relationship like no other relationship we’ve ever had. It is then that we have the power to be changed from within. It’s an amazing thing to have a change of heart. There’s no more trying to do anything. It just…happens.

No more rules and regulations. No more wearing ourselves out as we try to be awesome day in and day out. (an impossible feat, if you haven’t figured that one out already) We carry in all of our baggage…just as we are. And then He rids us of it.

There’s nothing poofy about it. There’s no rehearsal. No special talent it takes to get the part. God sent Christ to save us while we were still sinners. Not after we cleansed ourselves and tried to prove something to Him. He loved us in our sin. He loves us now.

I knew then that it was time to know Christ. To know His identity and His love for me. It was time to stop being in denial. It was time to have that talk…

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:8-11, NLT)

**Photocredit: tobyMac:#SpeakLife

Today I’m linking up with the following authors to share my story:

Holley Gerth and Coffee For Your Heart

Jennifer Dukes Lee for #TellHisStory