Given a chance religion will squeeze desire and love from life. It tends to destroy our deepest feelings and hopes. By necessity, it requires uniformity and compliance, and therefore, uniqueness and diversity, appetites and passions must yield to a sameness of mind and heart that blunt and numb our spirit and being. Religion can kill.
Faith in Christ, on the other hand, gives life in great abundance. In Christ, we become more male and female, not less; our passion and fervor can be bigger, not smaller. Our appetites, desires, and passions can find full and appropriate expression in Jesus. There are, of course, destructive habits and desires that we must put off (Col. 3:5-9), but coming to Christ does not mean that we have to arbitrarily put off everything! To the contrary, many of our passions and tendencies are not inherently evil but are a remarkable and good part of our created being. Christ fulfills and completes theses unique and acceptable expressions of our humanity for his purpose and glory. Even the twisted and warped passions and appetites can be redeemed and transformed by his power.
A sign that faith in Christ has turned religious is when diversity is not treasured and passion is suppressed. The liberation Christ brings can easily morph into legalism. Or we can come to believe that anything thrilling and enjoyable surely cannot be wholesome and right. Religion constantly lurks in the shadows seeking to rob us of our humanity, strip us of every pleasure – to kill us.
The world with good reason rejects religion, because it can dehumanize and kill. The world without good reason rejects Jesus, because it mistakes him for religion. And we give the world ample reason to miss Jesus when we do not live into our passions and desires; when we do not truly live. The world needs to witness that they can be saved to and not just from something. They can be saved to Jesus and for life!