Out of my almost twenty one years of life, I have found the last three years the most challenging to be proud of my faith. You might be thinking Shannon what? You go to a Jesuit university how does that make any sense? And honestly, I wish I had an answer for you. Coming to Scranton I was excited about the idea that I had the opportunity to surround myself with like-minded people. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some of my absolute best friends here and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But at the same time, I’m surrounded by many people who simply go through the motions of showing up to Sunday mass and saying their Hail Marys. Now please, don’t take any offense to this when I say it, I 100% respect your choice to follow your own religion and there are so many people that support me and my decisions, but I’m sick of being looked down upon by others because I didn’t follow a certain “rule.”
James 4:12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the “perfect Christian,” but who is? Can anyone honestly stand up and say that they are the picture-perfect believer who has the right to put anyone else down for what they do and don’t believe in? No. We all make mistakes, we all sin. That’s why Jesus had to die on the cross for us. No one here on earth is perfect. So just because I didn’t get ashes on my forehead on Wednesday means that in the eyes of God, I’m less than you? Says who?
Matthew 15:8 These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
As a Christian, I choose to pursue a genuine relationship with Jesus, not a religion. I’d rather spend my time actively searching for God in all things I do instead of making sure I said or did exactly the right thing. I want my relationship with Him to be filled with love, not obligation. I’ve met so many people that are completely turned away from any sort of spirituality because of bad experiences with religion. Often, they were force fed these rules and rituals and never had the chance to actually build a meaningful relationship, and now they’ve closed off their heart. I’m not here to say that religion is bad. I’m just trying to say that in my opinion, it’s more important to have an intimate relationship with Jesus than to go through your weekly checklist.
For anyone out there that might be struggling with something similar, or simply wants to further pursue a meaningful relationship, I want to point you to Ephesians 3:16-19. To everyone else, I’ll leave you with these two verses from John. I think it’s time that we stop putting each other down for our differences in denominations and start loving one another the way that we are meant to.
John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.