I read this quote earlier today (Wednesday, May 16, 2018). I’d rather not say who said it because I don’t want to politicize this. Here is what was said:
“The percentage of Americans who live out their religion on a weekly basis — praying, going to church, reading and believing in the Bible….”
This gets religion wrong. Religion is not “praying, going to church, reading and believing the Bible.” These practices don’t make up religion. They make religion possible.
I’m not opposed to any of these. In fact, I’ll even suggest that one cannot practice religion – at least not the Christian religion, without these things.
The problem is, these practices don’t make up religion. They make religion possible.
I grew up on the King James Bible, which includes the word “religion” exactly once. It’s in James 1:27, which says,
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Another text to which I feel strongly drawn when discussing what “religion” is is Matthew 25:31-49, which I’ll summarize in sharing verses 37-40:
“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
Fellow Christians, can we agree that faithfully practicing our religion is not fully grasped in the list of “praying, going to church, and reading and believing the bible”?