Have you heard? People are leaving institutionalized religion by the droves in order to seek spiritual autonomy. Why? Because the general public is sick—to the point of nausea—of the idea of religious superiority. Like kindergarten kids fighting over toys in a sand box, too many adults actually believe their religion is better than their neighbor’s religion.
People have created a slew of excuses for leaving the church. But it’s not really the music, the pastor, the priest, the sermons, the disingenuous love, the endless committee meetings, personal burn-out, or any of the other more obvious reasons people site for walking away from the building. Underneath all of these superficial justifications is the desire to discover true spiritual freedom, spiritual space, spiritual intuitiveness, spiritual independence, and spiritual maturity without the “my religion is better than your religion” packaging. The church, in her present state, is unable to meet these particular spiritual needs because she can’t rid herself of her packaging.
If we could hear a recorded playback of the conversations taking place across all social media platforms, we would recognize a huge divide between spiritually mature folks—who have no desire to claim religious superiority—and spiritually immature folks who fiercely defend the ‘my way or the highway’ perspective.
Sadly, the playback of human dialogue isn’t receiving much attention these day—but it should! I’m listening intently and, in respectful language, this is what the playback sounds like to me. (Feel free to add your own expletives if you wish!)
“My God is better than your God.” “My beliefs are better than your beliefs.” “My customs, rituals, traditions, and practices are better than your customs, rituals, traditions, and practices.” Oh yeah? Well, my Mom is better than your Mom” “My dog is better than your dog . . . and, btw, my religion really is better than your religion . . . so there!”
Life in the sandbox is a kindergarten phenomenon. Humans are designed to mature beyond playground arguments that erect mental towers of better-ness for someone else to knock down. So, the question becomes, “Are we maturing as a species?” I don’t hear the evidence! Is it humanly possible to mature beyond kindergarten behavior?
How many sand boxes are needed to secure peace on earth? How many fences? How many boundary lines? How many bombs must explode? How many senseless beheadings? How many drones? How many, Lord? How many?
Is religion the problem? No! The problem isn’t religion.
To declare religion as the enemy prevents deeper exploration into the real problem of spiritual immaturity—plain and simple. Religion can’t solve this particular problem, but less religion won’t solve it either. The human race needs in-depth lessons in spiritual maturity. THIS must become the future focus of the church of tomorrow. Does the church have a plan for teaching spiritual maturity that does not teach religious superiority? If not . . . why not? Jesus went to the cross defending the idea that his own religion was not to be practiced in a superior way. Who is modeling Jesus’ way?
Thoughts along the way!
Carol Wimmer is the author of the acclaimed poem When I say I am a Christian, and three books entitled: The Net—An Organizational Vision for the Church of Tomorrow; The Clock—A Timekeeping Tool for the Church of Tomorrow; and The Key—A Spiritual Language for the Church of Tomorrow