Tuesday, February 26, 2008

'Doing God' today - Not religous and not a label

I recently read an article from a special feature on God in the New Statesman. It was written by a man called Ziaduddin Sardar, talking about 'The right way to do God'.

He writes:

"The fabric of modern society is comprised of questions of moral conscience and none of us can escape the obligation to make choices for which we must bear responsibility. The sooner we can be open and honest about how and why we struggle with the questions, the better it would be for...our political and public debate"

He concludes "I know we all need a more challenging idea of what 'doing God' actually means."

He's so right.

Now, for me the term 'doing God' in the context describes a cultural shift. The way people perceive God and people who believe in Him has to change. The old way of 'doing God' culturally is going.

Faith as something of you merely believe is not the future. Its never been the way.

Faith, religion, God is now becoming a way of life. A lifestyle choice, not just a decision about what you believe.

That's how it used to be. Whether you were a Christian or not depended on what you believed not on how you lived. They were almost separate, unless you were a priest or a monk. In society, God had - and still is - compartmentalised. Even now, in many Christian churches, there isn't so much about Christianity as a way of life, a lifestyle choice, a cultural decision made by individuals - but something you believe in.

Many churches today are obsessed with getting people to believe the right thing. Not only that, but to 'get in' you have to agree with everything this doctrine says.

But Christianity is more than doctrine. Doctrine is important, but its only one part of being a Christian, and what interpretation you believe and whatever wing of theology you end up on, then it has something to do with your own upbringing, background and life experience. The way you first experienced God, the way you experienced life. It all impacts your theological perspective.

But its only the beginning.

Christianity - which is how I prefer to 'do God' as Mr Sardar puts it - is a way of life. Its a lifestyle choice. It a cultural choice for individuals.

Everything we do every day is part of being a Christian. Every choice we make, everything we do, all our priorities and needs, our whole way of life should revolve around God. Around Jesus. Around following His example in every area of our life. Work, rest, play, good times, bad times, joy, suffering, church, home, day, night.

The term 'Christian' is not a label we can put on something which is written by a Christian or about Jesus or Christianity in some shape or form.

Christian should not a label we put on ourselves. Its not a 'type' of anything. Christianity is the culture of how we live. Its our identity. Its our lifestyle. Books by Christians about some aspect of Christianity shouldn't be called 'Christian' books - they are books about Christianity by Christians. Worship music or and type of music made by Christians shouldn't be called 'Christian music'. Its worship music, its rock music - its music of a certain type with lyrics about Jesus or God. Or a band made up of Christians.

Christianity is how you live your life. Your daily choices, how you treat people, how you engage with society and the people in it. How you engage with God.

When you see it for that, then it opens up whole new possibilities. So many new interpretations which are still in line with the heart of the gospel and the nature of God. It means that you will always be looking for new ways of living like Jesus in the time and place you are. You will be open to new things. The things you create will be label free, but could still be about Jesus. How you do church is more flexible.

Church is a community of Christians meeting together, worshipping together, going through life together, discipling and training each other and supporting each other, serving together and together getting involved in the community its part of.

When you see Christianity as a lifestyle and a group of Christians see it like that too then church naturally opens up and becomes more in touch with its community. It becomes bigger than the meetings and home groups, its becomes alive. It becomes organic. It grows.

The way to 'do God' now is to make it your lifestyle choice. The thing that all your choices and decisions in every area of your life revolve around. More than just what you believe and definitely not a label or a religion.

Then we see more and more of who Jesus really is and what He's like and that He is just as relevant now and will be tomorrow as he was yesterday.

Then maybe eventually the world we live in will start to see that Christianity and 'doing God' Jesus' way is not religion. Is not a label. Its a way to live. What's more, maybe that its the best way to live.

What a prospect.