Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Double Sided Coin (Part 1)

“re·li·gion [ri-lij-uh

1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.” (religion)

There are few words in our culture that invoke as much emotion and opinions as the word religion, there are people who want to destroy it, save it, repair it, and ignore it. I think that very few people really stop to think about what religion really means and how our beliefs do and should impact our lives.
The definition above is taken from Dictionary.com and the third definition made an impact on me when I read it, “the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices”. It seems to me that Dictionary.com hit on something that a lot of Christians miss, a Christ follower, in order to fully experience a life in Christ, should be able to engage in a community of people who also profess to follow Christ.
That is obviously a academic and sterile definition, I prefer the one that Paul gives the church in Ephesians
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (Ephesians 4:1-7 ESV)
The whole book of Ephesians is a great example of how and why we need to be in a community of God because it is one of a small number of books that is written to a community rather then an individual but this verse sums it up really well for me. We were all brought to God through Christ at the leading of the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 2) and it is that reason that we need to “bear with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”.
I am further struck by Paul’s use of words is unique, we are to eagerly maintain the unity that we have with our spiritual cohorts. We aren’t just suppose to engage in a community but find one that we like to be apart of, one that we look forward to going to and being a part of. These types of community are much easier to engage in because they spring up organically from our relationships and our much more impactful because they have an effect through out our lives.
I don’t think that these communities have to take on the form of a traditional church, that would be a very narrow definition of community, but rather a group of people who regularly encourage you and whom you encourage (I don’t know if that was the proper use of who and whom). After all the apostles where just a bunch of bros hanging out together in the desert.

Work Cited
"religion." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 29 Aug. 2011. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion>.
"Ephesians 4:1-7." BibleGateway.com. Web. 29 Aug. 2011. .
Image from  Benjamin Miller <http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/8911>