A popular idea that has made its way through many a pulpit, blog, and TV ministry is: Christianity is not about religion, it is about relationship. And for the most part I agree. I do believe Jesus Christ reveals more than anything else that God is about relationships. In fact the Trinity is an eternal relationship: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dwelling in loving relationship.
However, they do not go their separate ways. Imagine. Son to Father, “Dad, I’m moving out. I’m tired of all your rules.” The Father, “Fine, the Spirit and I will be glad to not clean up your wood shavings in the garage all the time!” The Spirit to the Father, “Actually, I’ve been unfulfilled in our relationship for years. Maybe this isn’t the best time to tell you, but I’ve met someone else and I’m leaving you.”
The word religion has gotten a lot of negative press over the last several years. It has come to mean judgmental, dead, and irrelevant. It’s not hard to understand why those opinions have been formed. Religious institutions are guilty of all of it. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water (got to come up with a new saying).
The word religion most likely comes from the Latin root ligare- to connect, like a ligament. Ligaments connect the body and hold it together. Add the prefix “re” to it and you have- to reconnect. Religion then in its most basic form is a way to reconnect the fractured relationship between humanity and God and humans with other humans. It’s a practice of relationship.
Relationship does not come natural. It take practice. LOTS of practice.
Religion at its very core is about learning how to have relationship. And religion today at its best is about the very same thing. It’s about restoring and building relationship with God and others. We live in a world that is so very fractured. We break relationship and head for the door anytime we are hurt or challenged. Relationship requires commitment and it requires boundaries and rules. Did any of us grow up in a household with no rules or commitment?
Above all things it requires forgiveness, over and over again.
The church as well as the synagogue, the mosque, the temple, and the meeting place offers a community of committed relationship. Yes, there are rules of the house. There are boundaries that you should not cross. Relationship requires sacrifice. To have a committed relationship with anyone is to make some else’s needs and wants at least as important as your own. Sacrifice. Narcissism only requires a mirror.
Consider getting some religion: reconnect with God and others, and begin a regularly scheduled practice of relationship.