The word “religion” isn’t very popular.
People (including myself!) prefer to use substitutes like “spirituality” or “faith” as a way of bypassing this un-trendy word that can call to mind firm-fisted sermons, strict morality or chanting monks.
But let’s pause on it for a minute.
It comes from an old word meaning “to bind.” So a religious person is someone who is bound to God. Because of that they are also bound to a way of life.
But they are also bound to other people.
When you frame it like that, “religion” doesn’t sound dusty at all, but… beautiful.
In our highly individualistic society it’s easy to downplay the role of other people in our faith. We can focus so much on our own personal relationship with God that we forget our boundedness to other people along the way.
Research shows that when we’re in a loving, bonded relationship we are growing. But when we are isolated, we are slowly dying.
And a “loving, bonded relationship” isn’t restricted to romance. Understood from a Christian perspective, a “loving, bonded relationship” can be the relationship of commitment, support and care that you foster with the people you pray with, or with the people in your discussion group, or with the people you seek out to know, help and serve.
I love this verse from Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Sounds like religion. Sounds like boundedness. Sounds beautiful.
My message is this. Take your boundedness seriously. Look around at your fellow believers, your fellow travelers in this beautiful but troubled world… and go out of your way to support them.
THEY are your people.
By Matthew Ruttan