“Are You Religious?!”

close up of beer bottles on wood
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Yesterday, the woman helping me at the Bank asked, “what do you do?” I responded, “I am a student.” She asked, “Of what?” I said, “Honestly, in the Fall I will begin my pursuit of a PhD in Biblical Studies.” Without missing a beat she asked me, “Are you religious?!”
I confess, I did not answer straight away. I waited a moment praying she would give me some context. By her body language I stated, “I am devout.” Immediately she responded saying, “That is how I am!” After hearing her story, I learned that she comes from a very legalistic background. God was to be feared not out of awe and reverence, but for His judgement. She also shared a personal story of how one of her family members will not associate with anyone or anything outside of their church.
Right or wrong I said, “That is a tough one. We are called to go out into the world; but, to not look like the world. We are not called to live in a bubble.” We each discussed our church experiences and she ended our time saying, “thank you for the conversation!”
I have been repeating this question in my mind over and over again. “Are you religious?!” and each time I think of how I could have answered differently. Then, this morning, in my TWiG (Time With God) I felt like the Lord asked me, “how would you respond if she asked you, “are you spiritual?!””
Ultimately, I am spiritual in my devotion to Christ. I am religious but not a legalist. I am devout, deeply devoted and committed to our Triune God. I am thankful the Holy Spirit helps us to speak when we do not know what to say! Peter tells us to “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15 ESV). May we be prepared to speak anytime, anywhere, any place with any person!

Father God, thank You for this reader! Thank You for opportunities to grow and stretch our faith. Thank You for all the different ways You make Yourself known to us. Lord, grow us in our awe, reverence and devotion to You. May we always be prepared to share our faith, answering the questions that others have with gentleness, sincerity and authenticity. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and comments on how you would respond! Thank you in advance! Blessings, Mandy

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Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in St. Petersburg, FL and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. In the Fall I will begin working on my PhD in Biblical Studies from the same Seminary. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

10 thoughts on ““Are You Religious?!””

  1. First to comment! Woo Woo!
    Hi Mandy! That question she initially asked you made me stop and think. The word “religious” can have too many negative connotations for my liking or maybe it just puts me into a defensive mode. But, I think if I was asked if I was religious I would respond that I really value my relationship with God.

    I spent 35 years in the Canadian military and that can be a difficult environment to be a Christian in. I learned a lot of lessons along the way and generally speaking, if you try to be kind and considerate to everyone and you are consistent in your humble walk, most people respect you for it. They may not necessarily agree with you but they develop a general respect for you because you respect them and you are consistent.

    One of the places I worked at only had two Christians on the particular shift that I worked on.. As opportunities presented themselves, I would talk to anyone about my faith and answer any questions that they might ask. Having a sense of humour and not being too sensitive (thick skinned) played an important aspect as to how I was perceived as a “Christian” by others. The shift I worked on had about 10 people on it and every once in a while, after the shift, they would go over to the “Mess” (military term for watering hole) for a beer or two after the shift. This only happened about five or six times a year so we’re not talking about a weekly occurrence. I would usually go and just have a beer or a pop and then leave after a half hour or so. The other Christian (let’s call him Bob) would never go because he didn’t condone drinking. One night as we were sitting around a table having a beer, one of them said to me, “why is it that Bob never comes over for a beer?” I said I wasn’t really sure why he didn’t come over. I did know but I wasn’t going to state why. Then this fellow says, “Well Bruce, we just wanted to let you know that we appreciate you coming over here with us.” Now I am aware that there is a fine line that has to be walked and I don’t condone getting drunk or wasted either but I’ve also learned that we program others on how they will respond to us and accepting or identifying with others plays an important part in that. I had an opportunity to talk to most of them about Christianity versus nil for the other fellow because they felt I acknowledged them whereas the other fellow had a tendency to present a more “me and them” mentality. You’ll see this in the NT where Jesus went to the house of a tax collector and a Pharisee.

    How does this tie in to your question you ask? Answer or respond to questions as down to earth or as real as you can be without being guarded. There’s just something about that approach that people respond to and I think the key is making them feel accepted. The way that Jesus dealt with the Samaritan woman at the well is another case in point.

    Sounds like your answer was the right one too because she immediately opened up to you. I’m pretty sure you already know all of this but just thought I would throw it is because being open to EVERYONE seems to have been floating around in my mind for a few days. It’s amazing what God can do if we just follow His lead. Grace and blessings to you and yours!

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    1. Hi Bruce!
      Thank you SO much for taking the time to comment on this post!!!!!!!!! I appreciate your story! While I do not drink, I do not condemn others for doing so. This is a personal conviction for me. What I should have added in this post is the lady and I talked about being religious versus having convictions. I have learned when I most want to hide something or not share something, the Lord puts me in situations where I have no choice but to be open, honest, real, raw, authentic. What amazes me on this Jesus Journey is the tension between joy and pain. It can be absolutely painful when we are rejected for sharing ourselves with others and making ourselves vulnerable; but, there is joy in knowing that our Triune God sees, hears, knows and is waiting to tell us, “well done, good and faithful servant!” Thank you Bruce for your constant support and encouragment! I am grateful and humble! Also, thank you for praying for me, I will begin my quest for a PhD in Biblical Studies this Fall. Blessings to you and your family!!!!

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  2. I’ve been there. One of my favorite Christian songwriters once said, “I will never ask you if you are religious. Religion is merely man’s search for God.” That was around 1973, when I was 13. At the time, I was in, and had been, a very legalistic theology. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s did I dove headlong into my own biblical studies and found liberty in Messiah. Honestly, He used what I heard as a 13yr old and it applied to my spirit through the years. I loved your answer to her question. It opened her up to share. God’s grip. -Alan

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  3. I used to be religious – I wanted to know what I had to DO to know God, to win His approval. Then I realized being a Christian isn’t working our way up to God, it’s GOD’s reaching down to US. I cringe when someone calls me “religious,” partly because “religious” people were the ones who crucified my Savior. If someone says “I can’t stand religion,” I might retort, “Neither can I. Jesus didn’t like it, either.” That surprises people, and can open up a dialogue about the difference between being religious and being saved. Getting past people’s preconceived notions is sometimes the first step in opening their minds to the gospel.

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    1. Hi Ann!
      You make a GREAT point “about the difference between being religious and being saved.” I am totally meditating on this! I can understand why you cringe when someone calls you religious. I do think it is a bit harsh to dislike the term in part because of the “religious” people who crucified Jesus. To be honest, there is not one person who has, who is and who will walk this earth that does not crucify Jesus. I nail Jesus to the cross daily whether I am aware of my sin or not. From your posts, I know that you take sin seriously and that we all fall short of God’s glory and standard. Forgive me if I am being too sensitive! I just do not ever want to think that someone else nailed Jesus to the cross. Had I lived in that time, I am sure I would have done the same thing (just like had I been Eve, I would have eaten the fruit!). At the end of the day, Jesus willingly endured the cross to redeem mankind, including you and me! No person religious or not was going to stop His mission. Thank you Ann for giving me SO much to think about and process! (FYI, I process best when I communicate with others whether it be oral or written). Father God, thank You for Ann! Thank You for giving Ann the time to read and comment on this blog. Lord, continue using Ann as a vessel to show people The Way to You. Lead and guide Ann today. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

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  4. Of course, you are right that we ALL crucified Jesus with our sin. I will never forget the dream I had when I was in college, where Jesus was being crucified, and I was pushing through the crowd, thinking somehow I could stop it. When I finally got close enough to touch Him, I found I was driving the nails into His hands myself!
    In saying “religious” people crucified Him (when speaking with unbelievers) I’m speaking of who made the decision – or think they did – 😉 – at the time it happened.) I want to get past the notion that people are saved by “religion,” which is, in a sense, sucking up to God (to use my kids’ terms). People actually thought they were pleasing God by nailing Jesus to a Cross. Just introducing the idea that religion and salvation can be vastly different. We are saved when we admit that we CAN’T save ourselves. There are still people that think they can’t follow Christ, and the reason they give is, “I’m not religious.” I tell them, “Neither am I. Give up religion – come to a RELATIONSHIP.”
    I hope this makes sense. It’s late, and I’m tired, but I do enjoy our dialogue. Gnight. 🙂

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    1. Hey Jim! I LOVE to learn! I love to share what I learn as well. The PhD program at Capital is VERY language focused, this renders both eager and nervous! I am so thankful for your heart to preserve, exegete and interpret the original languages. If I may ask, do you prefer Greek to Hebrew? I think I would have taken more to Greek if I had a different professor (sorry, I am honest!). He’s a scholar and a godly man, his teaching style is vastly different than my learning style (felt I needed to clarify). Have a great day knowing you are covered by the shed blood of the Lamb!

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