I have friends that tell me that they don’t like the church that I go to because it is too “religious”.

It does not suprise me in the least that they would be 
lieve that.

They see a church building that actually looks like it is set apart for something of ‘the other’. It appears, in some respects, ‘other worldly’.

There is an altar, stained glass windows, church pews with kneelers,hymnals, candles, vestments on the pastor, a bulletin with a  liturgy, a pulpit, a pipe organ, a cross (they don’t think that is too bad). It looks, in many respects, Roman Catholic.

They have been taught that Roman Catholic is bad. Usually, where they worship, many, if not all of the things mentioned above have been replaced by an auditorium, with folding chairs, band instruments, Polo or Hawaiian shirts, big screens and stage lighting. The sermon has been replaced with a ‘how to’ class in Christian obedience.

While some of those modern methods aren’t necessarily bad, in and of themselves,  they can and often do tend to place the focus and emphasis of the message back onto ‘the self’. (which I believe fosters religiosity)

As Lutheran Christians, we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. We recognize the importance of the symbolism in the things passed down to us from saints that have gone before us. As Lutheran Christians, we recognize that because of our Christian freedom, we do not have to keep any of those things. We want to. Meaningless symbols can just be expressions of religiosity. But when those symbols are tied to what God has done for us in Christ Jesus, they become life giving lines of hope that are anchored to our Lord Jesus. They help keep us in Him… and Him alone.

Often, what appears to be “religious” is not at all…and what appears to not be “religious”,  is really quite so.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am certain you will find very religious people in the congregation where I worship. And I believe that in the contemporary expressions of  Evangelicalism, you can certainly find faithful Christians that have no room for religiosity.

But for the most part, when the focus is upon the Word of God, the law and gospel and the administering of the sacraments, the direction of the congregation is away from the self and towards our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus…and the wonderful things that He has accomplished for us, is accomplishing for us, and will yet accomplish… for us.

You can’t tell a book by it’s cover…or can you?