“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


The True Meaning Of Religion

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I need your help. There is a wrong that needs to be righted and since no one (that I know of) is picking up the torch on this one, I'm going to start carrying it myself. I hope you'll join me. It's simple really. All you have to do is refuse to propagate the incorrect use of one very important word.

may be the most misused and misunderstood word in the church today; at least in churches of a Charismatic bent. (I can't speak for other churches, since my personal experience is in the Charismatic church.) I am speaking of the rampant and outright fallacious use of the word.

Repeatedly – one might even say continuously – this word is used in the pulpit with a negative connotation. Preachers (including many whom I highly respect) speak of a "religious spirit" that is pervading the church, and urge us to let go of religion and embrace God's freedom. But isn't religion the very reason the church exists?

Merriam-Webster defines religion as "the service and worship of God or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith".

James 1:27 says, "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."

Is this an undesirable "spirit" that we must eradicate? In the above verse, the word religion refers to the working out of our faith – our commitment and devotion to God – in our actions by demonstrating his love to those in need. This is clearly not a bad thing.

Simply put, the word religion seems to have replaced what used to be called legalism, which is the word that should still be used in this context. Legalism, according to Merriam-Webster is defined as "strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code". It is used in the church to define those who are more concerned about the outward appearance than the inward state of the heart and one's relationship with God; those who are bound up by the law rather than allowing themselves to be set free by God's grace.

Perhaps this shouldn't bother me so much, after all, it's just a word. But the truth is that it does bother me. This is certainly not the first word to be misused, but it is a very important word, a precious word – one that I am not prepared to lose.

Religion should be a beautiful word, spoken in reverence, not contempt. This word, in its true meaning, embodies my faith, my devotion, my commitment, my love for my God. The beliefs I hold dear – in a Savior who created me, loves me, died for me, and saved me –
are summed up in this one word. The truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is my religion. Let's not forget that, and let's make sure we never lose it.

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At 4/11/2007 6:39 AM, Blogger Leanne wrote:

Aww. I'm with you.

I think people have just gotten lazy and removed "organized" from it, thinking that religion standing by itself has the same meaning as organized religion. I think those are two entirely different things. We can each individually have religion with or without the church - all you need in religion is belief in God.

(There are my two cents!)


At 4/11/2007 2:49 PM, Anonymous holymama wrote:

i had fallen for it so much so that i expected you to be coming out against the word!

you've converted me. heh.


At 4/11/2007 7:00 PM, Blogger yellojkt wrote:

I don't see the word 'religion' getting used that way. Maybe I'm not paying attention.


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