When I read the Scriptures, I see Jesus being patient and compassionate with people who had spiritual questions. I see him inviting people who were of questionable character to be with him. I see Jesus teaching and mentoring and enjoying the company of anyone and everyone, except those who were pious, righteous and religious. Even Nicodemus, who comes to see Jesus in the shadows of darkness was questioning his religiosity. Jesus would invest in someone like that. But Jesus railed against those who were more interested in rules than people; more passionate about regulation and reputation than they were caring for people and meeting real needs.
Those who are indignantly religious may think they are God's agent. In fact, though, they are hurting our cause.
Why? Because it's easy to see that people focused on religion are uninterested in them.
This is not a case against ritual. Don't confuse the two. Ritual is an important part of our lives, especially when it comes to matters of faith.
Religion, though, in it's adulterated form, is an abuse of what God had in mind. God is real. He's alive. He's not a statue or a crucifix or a cup and saucer. He's not a book or a checklist. He's not a clothing style or a language. He is personal. He is loving. He is near. And He cares. The question is: Do we?
The kind of faith that Jesus had in mind brings heaven to earth - not out in the future, but in this moment right now. That kind of faith speaks into people's lives in a relevant, personal, caring way that is both tangible and spiritual. That's why I'm not a religious person. But I am passionate about Jesus.