Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Religion versus a Relationship

I saw a post over on the Out of Ur blog entitled 12 Months, 12 Religions. They pointed towards a story about Andrew Bowen, who practiced 12 religions in 12 months. The project came out of a crisis of faith that led to a desire to explore these different faiths. Here is a link to the original post about the project. 'Url Scaramanga' nailed the consumerism angle of picking and choosing the different faith traditions that you participate in, as well as the reflection of how many young people view religion.


While Bowen was going about his journey through 12 religions, he also sought spiritual mentors from each faith as he studied it. I was amazed at some of the reactions I read from the different mentors. For example, the wiccan mentor said that he was one of her best students. I can't help but be impressed at the drive that Bowen displayed to explore and learn. It is a kick in the pants to remember that I need to steward my time to make sure I am walking with God.


There is also deeper point that jumped out at me through this whole thing. It is a basic question that I couldn't help but see float to the surface.... "what is religion?" Is religion merely something you practice? Is it a shirt you can try on? Is "religion" somehow different than faith?


The answer to the last question helps set the stage for the rest of them. Religion and faith are different.  Religion is a set of practices that one takes on in an effort to please, show devotion to or approach God. Faith, on the other hand, is complete and utter trust in a person. In Christianity, that faith rests completely on Jesus Christ. Our faith in His story: His coming to earth to fulfill prophecy, living the perfect life we could not, and dying the death that we should have, only to rise from the dead and defeat sin and death; this is what grounds and centers any religious pursuits we may have.


The problem is that people put the cart before the horse. They think that it is about simply following a religious system, showing up at a specific place and time, reciting words and then going home. However, apart from the transforming work of Christ in our life, all of those recitations are meaningless.


We should learn much from those who practice other faiths, but we must never forget that our faith is not grounded in traditions or sacraments. Our faith flows out of a relationship with the creator of the universe.


Be sure to check out both articles to read more. The last quote from Bowen is worth the click over there and Out of Ur always has a fun comment section. Leave your thoughts below!