“If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 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, NRSV
During this season of Lent, persons have given up chocolate, television, social media and even carbs in order to have “a closer walk with Thee.” But, as the title of this post alludes to, some are giving up religion all together. I would suggest that we give up race for Lent for it too is a religion. Nevertheless, those who claim no religious affiliation are called “nones” and in response, churches are trying to become more “seeker friendly.” So, they relax the dress code and provide an additional service time. The rigidity of hymns is removed and the warm face of a screen with shorter verses written on them replaces the hardback hymn books and Bibles. The church rules are not emphasized as much in order to focus on the relationship.
“Losing My Religion” is the title of Kirk Franklin’s new album, the gospel/inspirational artist and television host says he is giving up religion for a relationship with God. It has a nice ring to it. It might even sound better to some as organized religion has gotten a bad reputation with extremists getting the most of the attention and air time. His decision might sound well and good but it really isn’t.
Like Islam and Hinduism, Christianity is religion. James, the brother of Jesus, writes about religion and provides a definition for it. It’s in his letter and consequently, in the Bible. The one who may have shared a room or a bunkbed with Jesus provides a definition not for a relationship with God but for the religion of Christianity.
In the South, persons would say, “You are about to make me lose my religion?” It meant that they were about to set aside their religious convictions in order to respond in a way that satisfied their flesh. The action that followed would not be good but it would make them feel good or better about themselves. Today, it means to get rid of religion altogether.
But, an old song asked, “Do you have good religion?” James provides the definition of it and if this is not it, then maybe you should lose this religion. We cannot get rid of Christianity any more than we can get ditch Christ. And there are even those who would lose the name Christian for the derogatory meanings that are now associated with it. However, it’s in the Bible too (Acts 26.28; I Peter 4.16). It’s apart of God’s story and that not something that cannot be lost.