Last week I mused on the war of words in the Christian Community—how some churches are trying to separate themselves from others by changing the lingo. The members are substituting Religion with Relationship, and Christian with Christ Follower. Though, in that blog I said this doesn’t appeal to me, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with the new terms at all. I just feel we need to focus on how to live rather than how to say we live. THAT’S what tells people more about us than anything that comes from our mouths.
I know, I should talk. Here I am at my computer, using more words myself. Let’s all hope and pray they actually translate into action as well.
Anyway, this new lingo change prompts me to ask the question, is my faith a religion? I keep hearing from preachers, teachers and writers that it shouldn’t be. It should be a relationship. To answer this question I dusted off my old, hard cover Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, and looked up the definition of religion. Here are some of its meanings:
1) The service and worship of God or the supernatural.
2) Commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.
There was one separate definition that had “scrupulous conformity” in it, which certainly would not be how I view my faith at all. In fact I think God wants us all somewhat different, as in different parts of the Body of Christ. Scrupulous conformity only describes what some have turned their religions into. However, the other two definitions mentioned above could include a part of what my faith is. But only a part.
Now let’s look at the definitions of relationship:
1) The state of being related or interrelated.
2) The relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship.
3) A state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings.
The worst thing you can say about the original definition of the word religion is that it is vague. It does not tell you about the greatness of God poured out on His children through both His wisdom and His mercy. It does not tell of the sacrifice made in His Son so that we would know eternal life in His Glory. It could be used for any religion from any culture with any belief, even to worship a tree.
It is incomplete.
But so is the term relationship. It could speak of Cinderella’s ugly step-sisters. It could speak of an abusive husband or a swindling business partner. It is not wholly good.
Does that mean I don’t think we should substitute religion with relationship? Actually, to me both are acceptable—though incomplete—words.
Yet, I must say, I LOOOVVVVE the word relationship. In fact, I liken it more to a romance, but that’s just me :o). I love to think of my God as my friend, my love, my protector. All those things I want the hero of a good love story to be.
But He’s more. He’s my Father, my Creator, my all-in-all, my King. He is worthy of my worship and devotion and I want to commit my life to doing His will (even if I mess up at it a lot).
So to answer the question in the title of this blog—Is my faith a religion or a relationship?
It’s BOTH <shrug> for me anyway :o).
Other posts you might like:
You Are Holy
Christ: The Perfect Romance