I make no bones about it: I’m not religious.
I am a believer. I am a pastor. I am in ministry. But, I am not religious.
I am into the holy. I participate in the spiritual. I am involved heavily (not a reference to my weight and if it was…shut up!) in the “other world.” But, I am not religious.
What do I mean when I say “I’m not religious?”
Have you ever noticed how some people always “appear” religious? They always talk “religious.” They always bring religion into every thing. They make you feel bad because you are living a step, or many steps, below them.
Let me quit beating around the bush and get to the point.
I think I have upset people by my belief that forgiveness and friendship are two mutually exclusive issues. I believe, and you can find this in 4th John, “forgiveness is a command but friendship is a choice.” We have a duty to forgive. But, we have the privilege of selecting our friends.
Jesus extended forgiveness to the world. Remember His words from the cross? “Father, forgive them.”
Jesus did not call everyone His friend. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14).
I believe that I can forgive someone and choose not to make them my friend. Job had three friends. True friendship is a rarity. It’s a priceless treasure. Why would I bestow friendship, crown someone “John’s friend,” on just anyone? Especially on someone who has made my life a living hell in the past?
I can forgive anyone. I have. God told me to. Been there, done that.
But I don’t have to “friend” them on Facebook. I certainly don’t have to give them a special place on MySpace.
Have I truly forgiven them? Absolutely. How do I know? Well…. I haven’t gone over to their house and beat the holy Heaven into them!
Religious people don’t like this. They want you to believe that they forgive any and everyone and then embrace them like they were Mother Theresa or Billy Graham.
Religious people claim to forgive, forget, and then move forward hand-in-hand with the forgiven offender living happily ever after, singing Kum Ba Yah.
Or, at least that’s what they want you to think they do.
And, that’s what religious people expect you to do.
Here’s the test for religious people: look at your Thanksgiving guest list. Look at the list of people who will gobble down your turkey, slurp down your gravy, suck down your cranberry sauce, and then sleep in your guest room. Is the neighbor kid who threw a rock threw your window, that you forgave, on the list? Is the WalMart cashier who overcharged you 6 cents on that can of green beans, that you forgave, on the list? Are the members of that church you left, that you forgave, on the list? Is your “ex” whomever, that you forgave, on the list? Are the skateboarding teens with their loud devil music (like Rush and Justin Bieber), that you forgave, on the list?
Am I on the list? Or, did I just get scratched off?
Are those you forgave on your Thanksgiving guest list?
I didn’t think so.
You can always count on religious people to say one thing and do another. You can always count on religious people to “bind heavy burdens on you” that they never “lift a finger” to live. (Read Matthew 23.)
That’s why I’m not religious.
I’ll settle for living a real life any day.
Oh… if this blog post offended you, please forgive me. Can I come over for a turkey leg?