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Typically an American today would say, "I want to be spiritual but I don't want to be religious." What they mean by that is, "I want to have a personal experience of divine reality, but I don't want to have to deal with other people. I don't want to have to join an institution. I don't want to be part of a body." And the God of the Bible says, "I don't work like that. If you want something like that, you are going to have to make up another God. The only way you can hold on to Me is if you hold on to brothers and sisters—people who you would not have chosen to be friends with in the first place. Because they are related to Me, you have to be related to them, and you must hold on to them and love them and know them."

—Tim Keller

Comments

Amen!
Tim Keller is amazing! I heard him speak a couple of years ago about why Christians should live in cities. It was great.
Some of those principles are the same ones that guide our church. We have a fair amount of Keller DNA.
i've never thought of it meaning that when someone refers to being religious. but, i definitely agree with the statement being made. very well put.
I agree 100%. I would also say that people want to experience the Divine witout having to acutally sacrifice for it. That want the Divine to fit into their own time and space and wants and needs.
You're right. It's a natural want, but I think the expectation is made even more acute by the fact that in our age, it seems we can make almost anything else fit that way (by mobile phone, by microwave oven, by remote control, by credit card, etc.).

There's a lot of submitting to do if we are to follow God and recognize His authority. It's a good thing we have His Spirit to renew our minds and hearts in Christ, and His grace to forgive our stubborn rebellion.
I may have shared this with you before, but my stepfather, a minister, has a great line about dealing with the strife that will always come up among people in a community: "I bet Noah wouldn't have been able to handle the stink of the ark, if it hadn't been for the storm outside."

True enough.
Very wise. Thank God He doesn't just abandon us to our choices.

I guess you could have guessed

that I'm going to have to disagree with you here.

... was Jesus spiritual?

... was Jesus religious?

I don't think God requires institutionalized interaction with other people.

It ... seems like Jesus had the same distaste for ... organized religion as the typical American you describe.

BICBW
The people who Jesus defines as related to him are the people who ... do the will of God, right?

Re: I guess you could have guessed

We disagree, and I think Keller's phrase "the God of the Bible" is one of the lynch pins of the difference.

Certainly, one can pluck out actions, interactions, and teachings of Jesus and choose to frame them in a context of "Jesus opposed organized religion." In fact, it's a very popular reading. But the amount of the Bible one has to ignore in such a reading is massive, from God's organization of His people and giving of the Law to almost the whole of Scripture after the resurrection, with lots of stops in between.

As I said, one wouldn't be in the minority to adopt such a reading, but I think it departs from the realm of "the God of the Bible" and moves more into "the God I believe in" territory (probably somewhere in the "Jesus as great moral teacher" region, where the crucifixion and resurrection more optional than central and mercy is extended in many directions, but rarely toward the church). Of course, we have this freedom; we're just not talking about the same thing anymore.
That is very well put. When people come to me to complain about other members in the church, my normal first response is, "even in the family of God, we're going to have the occasional weird uncle or two."
Perfect. The double standards people have for the church (from without and from within) are staggering. How ironic that grace is such a struggle for us, even as we cling to it. With every weird uncle (or worse), the miracle of God's forgiveness of His Church is all the greater.
Thanks for this.
True true.
i saw this on the OW with the new art. love. this is the biggest thing i've been learning since being here. i have a feeling there's more to come. :D
It's huge, and transformational. Thank God.
IF the God in the Bible is saying, " The only way you can hold on to Me is if you hold on to brothers and sisters—people who you would not have chosen to be friends with in the first place", then the churches I've partaken in are full of religious people.

I don't know Tim Keller but he seems to be defining a spiritual and religious person a lot different than I do.

A religious person is the one who is pharisaical. (didn't Jesus say that himself?) Full of do's and don'ts for others and missing the relationship part of Christianity.

I'm quick to say I'm not religious. And that's not anything new, because from day I stopped running from God, till now, I never defined myself as religious but rather spiritual. But then I also don’t consider myself the typical American. Whatever that is.
Your first paragraph is describing a good thing, right (i.e., the churches you've partaken in have embraced people different from themselves because of Christ)? It sounds like a good thing to me, but the rest of your comment reads in a different direction, so I'm a bit confused.

It also sounds like you have a strong pejorative connotation attached to the word "religious," such that it is synonymous with pharisaical. Am I reading you right? It's not an uncommon operational definition, just a very culturally specific one, and I don't want to misunderstand you.

If so, I think that operational definition is very much included in Keller's point. It's extremely popular and common to regard "religion" as bad/square/dull and "spirituality" as good/hip/sexy (rather than the words just meaning what they actually mean). But for some, what underlies the distinction they're making between them is an unwillingness to be connected to others and God on anything other than their own terms. That means, of course, not being tied down: "I get to pick those people and things that make me feel like I want to feel and leave behind the rest, and if I don't get to do that, I'm moving on." And that's not at all God's intent for His people—choosing to do this requires a different god, preferably a self-defined one. The Bible calls these idols, and God isn't a fan.

I'm not saying that underlies your particular distinction, of course; I'm just restating what I think is Keller's clear point. And almost none of us ever likes to consider ourselves typical of anything (which is, ironically, typical).
I love it. Excellent quote. Tim Keller is speaking truth.

He's not related to Helen, is he?
That'd be just another case of the blind leading the blind.
This is such a foreign idea to us in America - choosing to be part of something that is often unpleasant, frustrating, intrusive, etc. What can we compare it to? I can't really think of anything. Even marriage has become "as long as I like it" instead of "for better or worse." We distance ourselves from our families if they don't seem to "get" us.

On the other hand, what can we contrast it with? Virtually everything. I don't like the TV show I'm watching, I turn the channel. The barista is rude to me, I find a different coffee shop. If my doctor doesn't tell me what I want to hear, I find a new one. If the food wasn't what I expected, I'll never go back to that restaurant. And on and on and on...

You hit the nail on the head, friend.
This makes me realize that even being a member of a church and attending every week... being friends with the people who go there and letting them challenge and encourage me? Still way easier to keep enough distance from to feel comfortable.
I'm not saying that's a good thing. I got a huge shock when I lived with Jessica because it was an uncomfortable community that I could not get away from.
And now married? There is no retreating. No withdrawing.
Of course there is spending time alone with God to gain perspective and refreshment, but that's different from hiding and avoiding.

It is within to hot, stuffy, self-killing air of close community that I find real glimpses of who God is. When I was single and roaming the world freely I found solace within myself (not that I was wonderful, but I had plenty space to keep a great distance from my faults) and it was blissful. But with that solace I had no motivation to be changed and grown.

If you don't want to be battered and beaten and broken on the journey towards the heart of God, don't get involved in community or commit to marriage. Don't submit to anything outside of your own attainable desires. If you want to keep yourself as you are and are not interested in communion with Christ please do not form deep relationships with others who are different from you.

Um. Anyway. What I meant say in my comment here was.... "seriously".
(Here from islandboy's LJ)

I couldn't agree more. And Tim Keller is FANTASTIC. I have never heard anyone delve into Scripture the way he does. The first time I came across his church's website and listened to some messages, I wanted to pack my bags and head to NY. I even sent them an e-mail saying so.