Let’s start with the end, religion, what is religion? The word religion comes from latin and means to re/connect (ligare is the same root word that gives us the english word ligament).
What is it we need to re/connect? Naturally this is a movement to re/connect with the divine. To mend a broken connection to that which is greater than or transcendent. There are a lot of questions that flow out of that one word. How did we get de/connected? What is it specifically that we re/connect with? And most importantly how would we go about re/connecting?
The classic Christian answer is that we have been dis/connected from the divine by sin and therefore we must “deal” with sin to be re/connected and this has been to this day the main focus of most Christian churches. One could say that from a classical Christian perspective the line should read: Church is my religion. This line read in the best of worlds would say Church is that which re/connects me with the divine, the church does this by different means of dealing with my sin and giving me access to god. As many of us have experienced this is not always true, church does not always re/connect us, sometimes church even dis/connects us, and in worst cases excommunicates us from the divine.
Moving on then to life. To say that life is my religion, that is to say that life re/connects me with the divine is also saying that there is a trancendent quality to life itself, that somehow life is part of the divine. Jesus states that he is “the way, the truth and the life” and so if life re/connects us to the divine then it is Jesus life that holds the truth, that shows the way to this life.
I could say that Jesus is my religion and it would be equally true. However, I believe, that although that statement would make sense to someone who has grown up in church and is familiar with the Christian symbolic shorthand, it would come with a lot of preconceived ideas both for the Christian and the non Christian alike.
So while this move to realign how we think about religion may be a move away from church as we know it, it is a move towards Jesus. The rest of this series will then explore what it means to be fully alive and experience that which was Jesus main message; that the kingdom of god, or the eternal life (aionos zoe) is at hand.
The next instalment of this series: Being alive is my daily spiritual practice will discuss the transcendens of the ordinary or what Salvationists call the sacramental life, then we move on to Love is my rule exploring the primacy of love and how the rule of love and grace superseeds the law. Then we turn to look at the interconnectedness of all huamkind in: Humankind is my family and how our conectedness can form a different understanding of church in: Authentic friendships is my church. The kingdom of god runs through my veins takes us on to explore how the kingdom or eternal life is already present in us as Jesus is my brother. Becoming and being all that I am is my calling will then discuss what it means to experience an embodied faith and the path to holiness through deconstructing the false self and rediscovering the true self that I always am. Helping you become and be all that you are is my ministry then explores how we can unearth this treasure in each other. My deepest feelings is my guide and All living things are my teacher then talks of how we experience and how we can keep growing, learning and journeying on the way towards wholeness or holiness.
In writing this I am deeply indebted to Jim Palmer from whom I have borrowed the titles for this blog series. Jim is one of many theologians and friends who will accompany us on this Journey and I recommend him, his ministry and his books (Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you) Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity Being Jesus in Nashville: Finding the Courage to Live Your Life (Whoever and Wherever You Are)) to you as great places to read more on shedding religion and embracing life.