“It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship.” Have you seen that saying? Or maybe you have heard it; or both. I have heard it many times, and lately I pass this posted up on a church billboard. My first response, mental, but it IS also about what we BELIEVE, therefore, yes, it is “about religion” too. I may be reacting a bit, but I am a bit skeptical of anti-religious claims. Religion is hugely important. What we actually believe affects what we do, what we say. It would help ourselves and likely the people around us if we were more clear about what we believe and why.
So, what do you believe? Why do you believe it? Seriously, what stands at the core of your belief?
It is not that I came up with this question on my own. Some years back, my father asked his children this very question, challenging us to write it out. What do you simply accept, what is the undergirding, the foundation stones on which you rest everything else?
I started with, “God exists.”
I think I may have written about a page on just that, mostly copying scriptures. I did not continue writing out my beliefs, but that exercise in faith, reason, and belief had an impact on me. I realize that whether or not I fulfill my purpose in being, or even just understand it, God is God. He is and He is Good. I may never understand this world, but I am confident in that. Descartes began with, “I think, therefore I am,” and reasoned to the existence of a God outside himself. I am grateful for his reasoning, but must begin with God. He is our author.
I am a bit part in this play called life. I recognize that ultimately I hope to experience it as a traditional comedy—a story that ends well, has a happy conclusion. I recognize that along the way will be losses. I am not in control. I do get to choose how I act, though, and if I am sensitive to the Great Author’s promptings, maybe I will do the right things and say the right words at the right time. I am often slow. I am like the child who, after five rehearsals still does not even remember when it is her turn to step on the stage. How is it that God is still patient with me? I do not even know that, but I trust myself to his goodness and mercy because I believe.
This is my relationship with God. He calls. He opens my ears and mind and heart. I listen. He loves. I must love in return. “Must?” you might complain, but yes, “must” is the word. I do not understand how I could not love God. My earliest thoughts of him are connected to his death for me and because my sins. My earliest remembrance of him is connected to the Communion. “Why can I not eat and drink?” My mother explained what the bread and grape juice meant, that Jesus had died because of our sins to make us whole; that he rose again from the dead and wants to live in us so that we could be complete, we could inherit eternal life. I believed. Jesus loved me, enough to die for my sake. How could I not love him? I had to respond somehow, so I accepted his invitation to join him. I would become his disciple, his daughter. When I turn to some sin that would separate me from God, he calls me by name. When I would despair of ever "getting it right" he shows me one step and then another; one thing at a time, he teaches me. It may take me three years to "get it", but he still continues to work with me. How can I not love him?
Is “it about relationship”? Yes, and it is also about religion. What I believe about God affects my relationship with God. What I believe affects what I say and do. I know a lot of what I believe.
Do you know what you believe? Do you know why?