Religion is the opiate of the masses. –Karl Marx
Ronnie McBrayer shares this quote on his recent post The Opiate Option. Marx’s view is something that I have encountered extensively over the past decade as I struggled to make a relationship with Christ relevant to those closest to me. I have a specific example, but I’ll be vague for now. It wasn’t until I stopped using religion as an opiate that I was able to truly grasp how I had gone about my kingdom work in a way that didn’t look very kingdom. The following is my attempt to reconcile my thoughts and inadequacies after reading Ronnie’s blog. I enjoy reading Ronnie’s work, make sure that you check out his blog.
Is my relationship with Christ like a doctor/patient relationship? Is church a place that I go when I need to feel better, but it’s okay to skip when I’m feeling pretty good? Will I let that bill go to the collection plate?
Is Christ my pill for every ill? If He was, would He be a daily, weekly, or monthly prescription?
I will admit that I’ve used my faith as a band-aid when I could have been made new instead.
If I’ve been transformed–there should be evidence beyond the church building’s parking lot.
I’ve had times in my life when Christ was little more than a medicine cabinet to me—locked away in my home. I didn’t attend church. I prayed, worshiped, and studied alone.
Christ is so much more than a medicine cabinet.
The medicine cabinet in my new home is missing…it has been removed so it can be cleaned and made shiny and new again.
Right now the only other mirror in the house is a cheap full-length mirror from a box store. It sits at the end of a darkened hallway. Innocent hands put that mirror under a lot of pressure this week and it shattered right in the middle. I do not like what I see when I look at that broken mirror, but that does not mean that it is not being used—that it does not have a purpose—that it will remain as it is. Because it is broken it will have to be re-purposed, it would be too dangerous to leave it as it is.
When I hang that shiny mirrored-medicine cabinet back up, I want to look into it and see a reflection of Christ. That may mean that I will have to make moves that seem impossible. That also means that someone will undoubtedly question my decisions and challenge my convictions.
We will all face judgment and pressure from those who may have good intentions, whether or not they break us or prevent us from transforming has a lot to do with from where we are drawing our strength.
I remember times that I made sin my master and was still able to look in the mirror and smile. My heart aches for that young girl who traded in the Word for the world. I was completely surprised by the fact that I didn’t have to fall far, to “fall”. I really thought that someone would say something…that someone would hold me accountable. I waited for the shoe to drop…and it didn’t…at least I didn’t think that it did. I didn’t realize that a dropped shoe—can look a lot like loneliness…separation…isolation…emptiness…hunger…
At a time in my life that when I felt most lost, my God began calling me home. Not the type of home that is later…life after death type of home… But the one that is now…life after death type of home.
A moment of conviction struck me hard one day while I sat in a class at church. The teacher said that when we choose to sin, we are essentially saying that God isn’t real.
I could not bear to think that my own decisions were working everyday to prove to others that God isn’t real. My enabling of others to sin was also providing the same testimony. My heart ached and it was beautiful.
I was one step closer to being transformed. I had already grasped a new concept of grace, and now I had realized that I had been willfully separating myself from a close relationship with God.
We’re all sick. We have this horrible condition inherited from Adam…but through Christ, there’s a cure.
I don’t think I can say that God is a pill for every ill…he isn’t just “take as needed”either.
I suppose I could view God as more of an intravenous saline drip to me. He’s in my system. He keeps me salty. He transforms me. He’s consistent.
I can’t help it. I do not want to settle for the opiate option, when I know that I can be made new instead. We, as the church, should choose more than the opiate option because there are people out there are seeking a real cure for their condition.
So what do you say, believers? How real is God to you?