The word ‘religion’ comes from the same Latin root as ‘ligament,’ meaning ‘to bind.’
In this sense, ‘religion’ refers to a system of beliefs and practices that ‘bind’ us to God and other people in a community. That’s obviously a good thing.
But there’s another way the word ‘religion’ is used which I think is a problem. It has also come to mean all the religious boxes I can check on my to-do list which make me feel holy and which make me think I can earn my way off of God’s naughty list.
Don’t get me wrong: It’s good to do things that help us grow spiritually. And it’s good when we ‘bind’ ourselves to God and to the people around us.
But here’s the issue. Religion—at least the kind of religion that is just about checking all the right boxes—is about what you can do; but Christian faith is about what God can do.
Speaking to Paul, God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). He didn’t say his power is made perfect in those who help themselves, or in those who tick all the right boxes, and in those who are the best spiritual thing since sliced bread. His power is made perfect in weakness—which, if we’re being honest, is very good news because all of us are somehow weak!
The reason I share this today is because someone told me it’s one of the most depressing weeks of the year. So this serves as a reminder that your mess ups, missteps and mistakes don’t define you—and they don’t even define your religion. God does.
It’s not You-ianity. It’s Christ-ianity.
Today, in the middle of January, celebrate that we have a powerful God who helps us with the minutia and moments when we are anything but at our best.
“Religion” is about what you can do. But power Christian faith is about what God can do.
By Matthew Ruttan
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.