I spend a lot of my life thinking about conversations, preparing so when I have a person’s ear I am ready to get my point across. I do not, however, plan my conversation when the person I am speaking with is also cutting my hair. You know those conversations, usually a random sampling of current events, family traditions and weekend plans.
During this particular haircut, the word “religion” came up. Though it was the right word to use in context, the question that followed made me cringe the same way nails on a chalkboard would. “What religion are you?”
On the surface, it seems like a perfectly normal question; one that you would think I would be, if not used to, ready to answer quiet naturally. It isn’t that being asked about my faith is annoying; it is that I have come to dislike referring to it as religion. I much prefer the term relationship; so much so that I have almost wiped the word religion from my vocabulary, at least when it comes to referring to Christianity.
I dislike the word religion because it conjures up thoughts of rituals and rules. Yes, I understand that we as Christians do have many rituals and tend to follow a lot of rules. So does just about every other religion on Earth, but we have the true God, living and working amongst us. Why just settle on checking off boxes when we can have a daily conversation with our Lord?
That in itself would be enough for me to dump the word, but it is actually something else, or should I say someone else, that makes me so determined to change the term: the non-believer. In my experience, if a person doesn’t have a relationship with Christ then they tend to group all faiths into the same category. In doing so, they get on the defensive and prepare to argue why religion isn’t for them.
Referring to Christianity as a religion, we give the impression that it is about the dos and don’ts. Are there rules to follow – sure, but tell me honestly, how many rules do Christians have that don’t have solid moral reasons? Are there rituals? Again, yes, but if the point of partaking is to partake, you are missing the point in the first place. There are some rules and rituals that are not common to all Christians – they are followed by particular groups and sects – and when looked at in the context of a relationship, you can understand that it is something the group sees as helpful in their walk with Christ.
I have 3 siblings; we all have different ideas when it comes to raising our children and running our homes. We make different decisions on how to handle certain situations. We do what works best for our households. We don’t cease to be family or think we should force our way on the others. Christianity is not about following rules or taking part in rituals any more than being a family means having the same political views or favourite sports team.
Christianity is about having a relationship with God where you acknowledge you are a sinner, accept His forgiveness and start the conversation.