Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
I am guessing that the headline for today’s blog is not really a shocker for most of my readers. Religion is humankind’s response to an understanding that there is a God. Over the centuries, countless wars have been fought over religion. Those wars were fought in a misguided attempt to prioritize one religious group over another. In other words, those wars were about power.
What an irony, since Jesus came to earth to let people know that when religious people are interested in power more than love of others, it becomes evil and oppressive. So, when there is an assertion that Christianity ought to be the state religion of the United States, we have a problem.
Indeed, if we truly lived by the principles that Jesus taught, we would have no need for an establishment of religion. Jesus did not come on earth to establish a religion. He told people to “go and make disciples”. In other words, he said, “I have given you the example of how to live, now go and spread that word. Set people free with the message that the Spirit of God is love, and you must be the example of that”.
But, just like at the Transfiguration on the mountain, the disciples wanted to build a monument to the event rather than to recognize that it was a transforming message of who Jesus is. So, gradually, over centuries, a system of worship and practices arose that became codified into religious structures.
No blame there- it is human nature to try to build some framework around strongly held beliefs in order to preserve them and pass them on in an orderly fashion. The problem is, of course, that the message can get garbled in translation. So, over the years, religions, certainly with good intentions, built up systems which eventually became self-serving, powerful, and even rich. And then they gradually lost sight of the reason that religion exists- to love and care for those outside the “religious club”.
So, religion is the system that is built up around a faith that is not so easy to explain, or even contain. Our relationship with God is based upon a spiritual change that cannot be contained in a specific religious box.
Such is the mystery of our relationship with God!
Prayer: Lord, help us to maintain well our relationship with you, no matter the religious name, Amen