Would you consider yourself religiously faithful or faithfully religious? Have you ever sat in church on Sunday morning wondering why you were even there? Does the ritual receive more emphasis than the message?
Faith and religion go hand-in-hand but it seems as though one hand doesn’t always pay attention to what the other one is doing. Man reads and interprets the Bible, defines the rules, and we are taught to turn those rules into ritual. That’s religion.
In my book, “The Ride, The Rose, and The Resurrection”, I share a series of personally challenging events that took my wife and me through the wringer for years following a near-fatal motorcycle crash. Sometimes it’s a mystery to me how we even survived the wreck, let alone as a couple, given the physical, financial, and emotional challenges we faced, but I honestly believe that without a strong trust in God neither we nor our marriage would have survived. That’s faith.
Let’s talk about faith and religion in terms of Christianity. What does it mean to be a Christian? Ask that question across different denominations and you’ll eventually run into a buzz saw of conflicting opinions, and every one of those opinions could probably be traced back to some predefined ritual, or religion, based on man’s interpretation of faithfulness. But whose religion is right?
Religious denominations crisscross our lives and our communities, and their ideals occasionally appear to be in conflict with each other. At one time or another we have probably all witnessed conversations among people trying to convince each other that their choice of places to worship is more right than the others, but when it comes right down to the foundation of basic Christian beliefs shouldn’t all Christian worship ceremonies be centered on Christ? And if so, how can one be better than another?
It’s easy to find yourself spiraling into the abyss of endless explanations when such philosophical questions are entertained, isn’t it? Here’s my solution conclusion:
Christianity is not a Religion, Christianity is a Relationship.
On those Sunday mornings when I opt for a cup of coffee and a quiet conversation with my wife instead of a seat in the Sanctuary I feel twinges of guilt for “turning my back on God”. But is that really what I’m doing when I spend one relaxing morning during an otherwise hectic week nurturing my marital relationship?
I have struggled with that tug-of-war most of my life. Can we call ourselves Christians if we fail to attend religious services every Sunday? Some say yes, and some say absolutely not. And therein lies the debate.
I attend worship services to reinforce and expand my awareness with regard to my faith as a Christian. I also read the Bible nearly every day. It has occurred to me that neither approach can stand alone as a sole source of spiritual support but either practice seems to help strengthen and deepen that private, personal relationship that Christianity is based upon.
What do you think?