I grew up in the Bible Belt.…but I didn’t grow up in church. I was very surprised when at age 30 after my life had ‘made the turn’, how much influence that just living in the BB had on me. I realized that I had preconceived ideas about the church and its practices, without ever attending. (by the time I was 30 I had probably only been in a church 15 times, including funerals)
You’d naturally think that if you’re a believer and you live in the Bible Belt, that would be a good thing, right? Well, I guess there could be some advantages to living there but, Bible Belt mentality can really stand in the way of kingdom progress. As a leader I’ve found that anytime you go against the grain of that religious mindset and practice you’re a target of some sharp, mean-spirited criticism. Same way with Jesus; religious tradition was so strong in His day that it made His mandate from the Father extremely difficult.
I’m not against religious tradition….unless that tradition is standing in the way of what God wants to do….then I’m very against it. In Jesus’ day religious tradition was not just a ‘bad’ thing…..it was the most evil thing. It wasn’t the sinners that fought against the things that Jesus said and did….it was the religious crowd!
I don’t particularly enjoy the criticism of going against the religious grain, but it’s worth it to me to endure it so that there can at least be a chance of an authentic expression of Christianity.
It’s an uphill climb….but the Lord is on our side