The word religion gets a bad wrap these days.
The Post Modern West tends to view “religion” at its medieval, autocratic worst.
In the place and time where I grew up — belief in “institutional religion” was regarded as a fool’s nostalgia for dogma and blind faith.
Even church people sometimes say it – “I’m not religious – I’m spiritual.”
Of course being spiritual doesn’t say much – for there are as many lost spirits as there are found ones. As many lonely spirits as there are fulfilled ones.
Sure I’m spiritual – that is not enough – I wish to be a connected spirit. Connected to God, and to Creation.
Religion is simply Latin for “reconnected.”
Christianity is a reconnection whose bonds are based on freedom. Christian faith is a hopeful submission – to mercy – to love – to wisdom.
We are strange ones we human beings. We actually have a built-in yearning for religion. We yearn for things that are noble and pure. Yet, every time, when we get what we want, we soon take them for granted as though they were base and unclean.
We have a built in desire for freedom from the bondage of sin and death. But every time, when our liberator arrives, we lie in wait, pretending to submit to his mercy for a little while, only to ambush that saviour, rejecting him in a desert of cold blood.
Time and again the Lord sends us the message of his only Son, that we might not look to our own unruly wills and affections, but that we might heed God’s loving command, and find our place in an eternal now of promise and true joy.
How sad it is that we dwell as tenants in the Lord’s vineyard, and yet most of the time we send him little in return, and begrudge whatever we do, all the while hoping that one day the Lord will stay away altogether and we will keep the vineyard for ourselves.
What is your true religion? Is it a religion which reconnects you to God and to mankind – or is it a religion which ties you up to the ways of the world and to all its pain and despair?
Is your religion tying you up and keeping you down? Or is it making you feel more free, more hopeful, more joyful than before you took it on?
Jesus Christ came to reconnect us to God and to one another.
Yet he came knowing we would reject him.
He came knowing he would be killed for coming. He came knowing he would be killed for trying to reconnect us.
And by forgiving us for killing him for coming to save us – he made it happen. He created a connection we can depend on, despite ourselves.
By forgiving us for being ourselves, Jesus overturned the cycle.
No more sons needed to be sent to the tenants in the vineyard.
For by the mercy of Christ, you and I and God are connected again.
Rejoice, and be glad in it.