I met her at the door after worship. This young adult had come to church at the behest of a family member. If enduring the service wasn’t bad enough, now there was no clear path to the exit; she had to wait in a line of church people to greet the pastor.
I introduced myself to the young woman and noticed her piercings and tattoos. She probably thought I was judging her, but what I was thinking was, “This is just the kind of person we need to get into church to hear how much God loves her!”
She made it clear it really wasn’t her idea to be there.
I just said I was glad she was with us.
She set her face to get out the door – I’m not sure if she was more uncomfortable to be talking to a pastor or to be holding up the line of parishioners behind her.
She had one more comment. “I’m not very religious.” It came out something between an admission and a dismissal, with just a hint of challenge.
I hope my answer surprised her. “Neither am I.”
Then she was gone.
I didn’t have a chance to explain that I meant my faith is in what God has done for me – and for her – not in religion.
I didn’t get the opportunity to say that religion is about following the rules to get God to love us.
Following Jesus is knowing God already loves us and definitively demonstrated that love in the suffering and death of the cross.
I didn’t get the chance to tell her religion is about getting to God.
But Jesus came to us. God always comes to us.
Most of all, I didn’t get a chance to tell her that God just loves her. Period. Because that’s who God is.
And that there is nothing she needs to do to earn or to keep God’s love and salvation.
It’s all been done for her.
And for me.
That ain’t religion.