My Brisbane neighbours who eventually discovered I was a church pastor would often claim they were not religious in the hope they could avoid any discussion about God or of a spiritual nature.
They were then surprised when I admitted that I was not religious either (but enjoyed a great relationship with God).
It may also surprise many people to know that Jesus did not come to earth to establish a religion.
In fact, he didn't even mention the words religion, Christian or Christianity.
When you look at the original meaning of the word religion, it is easy to see why Jesus avoided it.
Religion comes from the Latin and means to tie, to bind, to obligate or to fasten.
The word conveys a sense of duty, living according to a set of rules and restrictions.
The highly restricted, performance-based life of a monk illustrates religious life in the extreme, but most people committed to a religion of any variety are dominated by the need to perform and to please in order to 'make it' or 'be accepted.'
Jesus came for something entirely different, indeed the opposite.
He came to set us free from religion, to reconcile us to God without the need to perform - nothing to do with religion or religious performance at all.
Religion is mankind striving after God.
Jesus did the opposite - He brought God to mankind, and ultimately will bring all mankind to God.
"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."Religion is the outward performance of ceremony, conduct and service motivated by a sense of duty.
[ John 12 : 32 NIV ]
Jesus gives life that produces inner joy and peace and service motivated by a relationship of love.
Following Christ is the outworking of that life that brings us to God and Godliness.