In the past, I used to tell people being a Christian was more about a relationship with God than it had to do with religion. By religion, I meant following rules to strengthen oneself and become a “good” person. But inadvertently, my relationship with God was, well, about my relationship. It was self-focused and could exist outside of loving my neighbor. It was easy to make the two ends of the spectrum self-gratifying without knowing it, and, as a result, disregard religion as in-superior.
But thankfully, an early disciple of Jesus shed light to religion’s true definition:
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)
Christianity, then, is far more than just a relationship between me and the Father. It is a religion and relationship built on love for God and neighbor. In essence, it sums up the two greatest commandments (Mark 12:28-34).
And religion, then, is something far greater than self-gain or being good for the sake of being good. It encompasses a righteousness that takes care of those in distress. It entails justice and mercy that ultimately pleases the Father through Jesus.
I want to be more religious.