Learn How To Hike Your Own Hike

Two Guys Hiking

It’s amazing how the information overload age drives our thoughts, actions and habits. Our entire lifestyle can be altered with the right “expert” posting a new YouTube video…

If you are familiar with me, you know I love backpacking. Venturing into the online hiking community will bewilder you with the debate over what is and what isn’t a true backpacker!

For instance, if your base weight is not under 10lbs (ultralight), you are not a real backpacker!  It’s easy to buy into the “ultralight” mentality as you try to get your base weight down. To get to that base weight will cost you about $2,000. Honestly, if we can’t carry 25 pounds, we should find a new hobby!

And then you must be stoveless! This means you don’t carry any means of cooking food. You eat dried foods or cold soak them in water.

A friend and I did a stoveless hike last summer. I still laugh at us standing there eating nutrition bars, drinking cold coffee, and telling each other, “It’s not too bad.” Translation, I can hardly choke this down! It’s worth 10oz to make hot coffee!

One more thing, you absolutely must wear trail runners and not boots!

The “you have to” list is endless. The result is you end up hiking someone else’s hike. The only way you will enjoy their hike is watching it on YouTube.

The hiking community has a phrase, “Hike Your Own Hike.” Basically, figure out what works for you and do it!

Being that I am a pastor, there must be a spiritual application!

In our Christian lives, if you are involved in a local church (which you should), we have a similar issue. There are many people who try to define for us what a Christian is and what one isn’t.

God’s Word defines what a Christian is and how we can know we are one! Biblical principles make that distinction for us.

Our problems come into play when we get to secondary separation issues. The do’s and don’ts list Christians love to maintain. Disclaimer, some of them we really shouldn’t do!

We all know that “real” Christians don’t smoke, drink, chew or run with women who do!

Yet one of the greatest revivals the world has known, was led by a man with a cigar in his mouth who enjoyed a good shot of whiskey every now and then.

For me, because of past struggles, neither is a good idea. But those are not what define me as a Christian. God defines me, not others!

The Bible has its own version of Hike Your Own Hike, we find it in the book of Philippians.

Philippians 2:12b …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

In the backpacking world, someone who achieves the status of “ultralight”, has developed a high level of skill to survive with very little equipment. It took a great deal of time, research, trial and error to operate at that level. They are truly hiking their own hike.

Work out your own salvation is the same. If we are depending on others, “the YouTubers of the church” to tell us what a Christian is, we will end up trying to live the testimony of others in our Christian lives.

We do need to learn from the testimony others. They have experience, made it through trials and passed the tests of faithfulness. But work out your own salvation means we cannot assume their faith, testimony and relationship with God.

A relationship with God is a personal thing “your own”.

As a Christian, the only way to have a relationship with God is to personally invest the time! You must learn to Hike Your Own Hike!

The Case For Organized Religion

In recent years it has become a popular thing to declare one’s freedom from organized religion.

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While some declare they have proudly walked away from the church, others declare they are no longer Christians, but Christ followers. You get the general idea.

What is interesting about all of this independence, is that the Christ they claim to be following away from organized religion, worked just fine within the confines of organized religion.

  • He kept the Passover.
  • He celebrated the feasts and special days.
  • He followed the Jewish Law.
  • He honored the Sabbath.

We never find Jesus resisting organized religion. What He did resist was the abuse of organized religion by arrogant, prideful, abusive religions leaders.

It’s fair to say that many times when someone proudly walks away from organized religion, it is not religion itself that is the problem.

More often than not, the problem is two selfish sinners (a church member & a religious leader) who choose not to take care of business the way the Bible instructs them too.

In other words, two sinners who are not getting their own way.

The danger in stepping outside the boundaries of organized religion, is that it opens us up to error, isolation, lack of accountability and false teaching.

Every church is going to have struggles and flaws because it’s a divinely decreed organization trying to operate in a cursed and fallen world. But it’s positives far outweigh its faults!

Organized religion provides us with:

I. Solid Doctrine

We define doctrine as a body of knowledge about a certain topic or belief.

While Christ sealed our eternal destiny, the Apostle Paul tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

He is telling us that our growth as Christians is our own responsibility.

Our spiritual growth is one reason it is so important that we avail ourselves of the solid doctrine presented through Bible believing churches.

When we step away from the organized church, we open ourselves up to doctrinal error and cultism.

II.  Accountability

We can’t just walk away from 2,000 years of Christian values and tradition!

For many, organized religion is automatically equated with legalism. Could I go so far as to say that in some instances legalism is of great value?

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When I first became a Christian, I needed the structure and accountability of organized religion to help me overcome some of the personal struggles that I was facing as I tried to break free of my past.

Recent studies show that millennials are beginning to return to organized religion because of the structure and discipline it offers. They are looking to old mainline denominational churches that offer traditional services and values.

[bctt tweet=”Potentially, every person can benefit from what organized religion has to offer.” username=”michaelkduff”]

III. Biblical Teaching

When someone walks away from a Bible believing church, they step away from Biblical teaching. Often they begin to interpret the Bible according to their own desires and needs.

One of the greatest benefits of Biblical preaching and teaching is that it brings us face to face with ourselves! It challenges our thinking and causes us to check our thoughts and actions.

God has commanded the preaching and teaching of the Bible to protect us from sin and error in this life. Biblical teaching will warn us and make us aware of the pitfalls in life. It is as Proverbs says, A lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path! (Psalm 119:105)

I hope you are not quite ready to give up on organized religion. Potentially, every person can benefit from what organized religion has to offer.

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How different would our world be if instead of walking away from organized religion, we asked, “How can we allow it to have a greater impact on future generations?”

 

What value do you find in organized religion?