I’ve very recently been watching a programme on the BBC – Pilgrimage – The Road To Santiago I was so heartened to see a programme on the subject of Christianity, involving a fairly open discussion. Especially during Lent. As a Christian myself, I often feel that we are an ever decreasing minority. So unsurprisingly, I was encouraged.
I very much admire the people who took part and who made themselves vulnerable physically and emotionally. It was no small feat! Two weeks of hiking a journey of 800km which took them through France and northern Spain on the medieval pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and the shrine of St James. In sweltering heat. With very basic facilities and supplies. Sharing their thoughts and experiences with the viewing public. And putting their bodies through a punishing route. (The wine fountain was amazing.)
As much as I enjoyed the whole experience. There was a little nudge going on for me throughout. An opportunity I felt, missed. Perhaps it was I who missed the point. But the emphasis seemed to be more about Religion than Faith.
I can completely understand that if a person has a painful experience in any setting, they may well avoid or reject it. I know, easy for me to say. The closest I’ve come to fear in a faith setting was a terrifying Sunday School teacher or reading at a Service! I have however, experienced fear in other settings.
Faith or Religion?
I feel sad, however. As to me Religion and Faith are two very differing things. I had hoped the theme would develop. Of course, as viewers, we are not party to many of the private conversations that would have taken place.
I had hoped to see a greater awareness raised about how far away legalism, i.e. Religion, is from Faith. It doesn’t say in Scripture ‘now Religion is confidence in’ etc it says…
Hebrews 11:1 NIV ‘Now FAITH is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’.
If you have a moment and feel inclined, do read Hebrews 11 in full. It is wonderful.
I don’t by any means profess to be a Theologian or Historian. But I do hope I have a growing understanding of relationship with God. We can never claim to have fully grasped that, the presence of God is too vast. But I think they were so close to touching on that, but it was missed. Again, from what was broadcast. I could have missed it.
I know that the programme was very much about self-discovery. And yes, I absolutely agree. We do need to truly know who we are. But faith takes you beyond self. It is in letting go of self, that the opportunity to meet God presents itself.
The Pilgrimage being that opportunity. Worldly pressure and demands temporarily removed. Giving time for dialogue. To listen. To hear. That expression ‘let go and let God’ comes to mind.
How do I know this? Am I a Pilgrim? Of sorts I could be. I can’t claim to have hiked 800km from under my duvet! I didn’t always have the full understanding that God isn’t a process. It’s not about the rote that people can be so very good at implementing.
Although in fairness there was reference to the New Testament being the new word. The old law has gone.
2Corinthians 5:17 NIV – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Hebrews 8:13 NIV – By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
How do I know?
I said a moment ago that I am a pilgrim of sorts. My personal Pilgrimage takes the form of Chronic Illness. I can very rarely attend a church service in a church building, I spent & spend a lot of time alone and see very few Christians in person.
All that I had established in my faith life was rapidly stripped away. All that was left was God. No trappings, no opinions, no routines. Nothing. It was and is, prayer, The Bible and God. And for a very long time I couldn’t read. So prayer was the breakthrough. And even that was hard. One word was often all it was.
Christ made an appearance on the edge of my bed. And I knew from that moment on, I was not alone. God hadn’t deserted me or sat waiting for me in a church pew until I could get there. He was the visitor bringing food, the listening ear, the caring neighbour, the husband standing with me through thick and thin.
And yes again. That was expressed more than once during the series.
I thoroughly enjoyed the programmes. The journey. The route. Seeing the friendships and understanding develop, and the respect for each others viewpoint shared with much grace and kindness. So, there is a lot to be said for that.
As you can probably tell, I feel quite passionate about this. That is what God does. He spurs you on. So, I hope for the people taking part. That they will see God beyond the trappings and past pain. I’m not trying to trivialize any one person’s experience. Many described must have been unimaginably hard. But God is not about control or losing freedoms. Being a Christ follower is freedom.
I hope that a seed has been sown. That they will know that many Christians will be going to their quiet place over the coming days. They will be writing the names of the folk who took part, in their prayer journals, and praying for them to have an encounter with God. Amen!
Thanks so much for reading. I’ve so enjoyed discussing this.
Have a blessed day and a wonderful Easter.🌸 I’ll certainly miss be splashed with Holy Water this weekend!💦
Penny ~ Hope found in M.E.🌸
Chosen Tune 🎵👇
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