The Difference Between Religion And Christianity
So many times, religious people are seen in a very negative way. Although religious people often have good intentions, these same people are often judgmental toward others and restrictive in their views. My being a Christian doesn’t give me firsthand knowledge on the difference between being religious and being a Christian. However, I am writing from experience.
Early in my college days, my assistant in one of my classes was a very smart and down to earth person named *Samuel (not his real name, this is a pseudonym for privacy). Samuel assisted me in my Nutrition class. Originally, there was some concern on the part of my college because Samuel and I were opposite sexes. However, I assured the decision makers that all would be well, and I won the argument. Samuel was hired to assist me in the Fall semester of 1997. I was just a baby, having recently turned twenty. At the time, I was horribly naïve and didn’t know how truly clueless I was. Looking back and having both matured and been in two relationships since, I now understand why zero knowledge can be a very bad thing!
Samuel assisted me for the entire semester. I was very surprised that he enjoyed helping me so much. Without telling me about his decision, Samuel returned for the Spring Semester and continued to help me in my courses that followed Nutrition. You can only imagine my surprise when Samuel appeared in my History class on the first day of school. “Hi!” he said, with one of the biggest smiles I had ever seen. “I’m back for more fun and excitement with the smartest woman in school!” Outside of my terrific family, up until then I had never been given such a compliment. Samuel and I grew to rely on one another a lot for support and encouragement.
As time went on, Samuel and I grew much closer. When I was in school, Samuel and I were always together when we didn’t have classes. Toward the end of the semester, we were having one of my famous homemade lunches and enjoying the beautiful weather. When lunch was over, he helped me clean up the food and organize things for my afternoon schedule. “Thank you Manda, lunch was absolutely delicious!” he said.
I smiled. “I’m a Southerner. Delicious is my middle name. Delicious is how we do everything!” I said. I was saying good-bye and getting ready for my classes.
“So, when are we having lunch again?” he asked.
“I am the smartest woman in school,” I teased. “It sounds like you are asking me on a date, and I’m sorry but I have to decline. You work for me, remember? I never date people who work for me, I don’t believe in mixing school and personal,” I said.
Samuel’s eyes fell and he frowned. “Manda, I have so much respect for you, but sometimes I wish you weren’t so absolute in your beliefs. Being absolute can sometimes keep you from experiencing wonderful things,” he said. Before I knew it, Samuel was standing directly in front of me. Samuel was very tall. As he stood in front of me, I felt like a small dot that cartographers use when labeling cities on maps. “You are absolute, and I believe in being convincing, so my dear, you are not leaving me any other choice but to convince you to see things my way,” Samuel said.
At that moment, I didn’t really understand what he meant, but I remember being very frightened. The next thing I knew, Samuel kissed me. There were many girls in school who were interested in Samuel. Not only was I not interested in him, I had no idea what on Earth he ever saw in plain old me anyway.
After he kissed me, I was completely taken aback but somehow managed to regain my composure. I was not interested in Samuel romantically, but I was well known in school. I wondered if Samuel had only kissed me to prove a point. “Look, I am very sorry, but this just can’t happen,” I said. With that, I turned and headed for class.
“Sweetheart,” he said in a tone dripping like honey with sarcasm. “Leave if you must, but I always get what I want,” he said. At the time, I didn’t know what Samuel meant. Little did I know that his words would be a pretense of things to come.
Several months later, Samuel quit working for me and we began dating. Of all my relationships, my relationship with Samuel would quickly become my unhappiest and most difficult. Ironically, it seemed like the harder I tried to make him happy, the worse our relationship became for me. Not that I didn’t realize what was happening, but I genuinely hoped our relationship would improve.
I believe that church is a place where people should be loved and accepted for who they truly are. Due to my disability, I was negatively judged by many in Samuel’s church. At school, people claiming to be our friends were publicly critical of our relationship. While Samuel and his friends gave the appearance of being religious, Samuel was not loving me in a way which was consistent with the teachings of Christ as found in The Bible.
I love the rock group, “Journey.” I once asked Samuel to go with me to one of their concerts. “No, thank you, sweetie,” he said. “Journey is not very Christian.” Being the person I am, I went to the concert alone. During the course of our relationship, Samuel and I could only see each other when we were accompanied by a large group. Samuel was terribly afraid of what people at church would think otherwise. Not long after the concert, I broke up with Samuel.
To me, there is a basic difference between Religion and Christianity. I believe with all my heart in loving people for who they are, not in a judgmental or critical way which does (or does not) fit a particular standard. In my opinion, such an example communicates the message of Jesus Christ more effectively than do the hurtful and judgmental standards of legalism!
Tags: Samuel , School , People
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