1.04.2008

The Relevance of Religion

I have appreciated the window into peoples' lives that Facebook
represents. People you thought you knew pretty well give you all
sorts of nuggets about what makes them tick that you had no idea
about, and people you only know casually offer information that dear
friends sometimes aren't even privy to usually.

One particularly nice window is the field, "Religious Views." After
all, religion in this country and time is usually a pretty private
affair. But through FB, some people choose to ardently express their
zeal, while others display their disgruntlement.

I find the disgruntles particularly fascinating. One friend is a "bad
Catholic," and another "grew up religious but then figured out it was
all a bunch of hooey" (well, they use a stronger word than "hooey").
One laments that "W bombed my beliefs," while another wonders, "Who
needs religion?"

Some of these and other answers are quite clever, but they also elicit
a sadness from me, not just for them but for the state of 21st century
American Christianity. I will be as bold as my faith to say that to
follow Jesus of Nazareth is life, and that that life is just as fresh
and engaging in 2008 as it was in Biblical times. And yet so many of
my friends on FB and in my various circles of relationships wonder
aloud about the relevance of religion.

It matters not whether we who live lukewarm Christian lives are more
or less at fault for this than peoples' own unbelieving hearts, for
God alone can change unbelieving hearts, including our own. What
matters is that what we can change, by God's grace and with His help,
is to live lives that epitomize the relevance of our relationship with
Jesus of Nazareth.

To choose vocations and make financial decisions and serve our
communities in ways that represent lives that reflect a relevant
religion; to conform our words, attitudes, and actions to a reality
that proclaims that Jesus is Lord; to forgive like we've been
forgiven, to love deeply like we've been loved deeply, to demonstrate
sacrificial loyalty like we've had it demonstrated for us: if we who
call ourselves Christians were to commit to such a life, maybe there
wouldn't be so much disillusionment, cynicism, and sadness about
religion. And if not, can you blame my friends for wondering aloud
about the relevance of religion today?

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