Faith & Religion
I am a Christian. I grew up as a Methodist in a town that was predominately Catholic or Jewish. My Dad grew up with Catholic traditions, so of course we ate the dreaded fish stick every Friday night. My father in law was Catholic so of course I would have rosary beads hanging in my house. My sister in law grew up in a Catholic household and went to Catholic school for the entirety of her pre-college education. And I must say I really do like this Pope. Pope Francis appears to be kind, smart, loving, fair and expectant of his flock and fellow clergy to do the right thing. So, I feel comfortable saying that I have an understanding of the Catholic church. I spent my entire adult life working for or volunteering for the Methodist Church. I have been an Administrator, Children's Minister, Recreation Director, Sunday School Teacher and on multiple boards and committees. So, I once again, feel comfortable saying that I have an understanding of the Methodist church. I have friends that are Jewish, Catholic, Non-Denominational, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Methodist and many other faiths. In the end, I would say that I believe in formal religion and I have a good understanding of the overall concept.
So what does it mean to be religious and what does it mean to be faithful? To me faith represents how we feel and in many ways religion is how we think. Both aspects are important. I must say you can have religion without faith and you can have faith without religion. But putting the two together is a perfect marriage.
One of the areas I am sad to say that I often see is religious judgement. If someone follows another denomination there is often a sense of judgement. I am also sad to say, there was a time that I had been one of those people. We tend to believe that if you do not worship the same way I worship or if your belief system is different, than you are either lost, misguided, ignorant or you just don't have the "faith" that I have.
But if we really think about it, is that what God would want from us? Instead, what would happen, if we took the opportunity to appreciate that we each learn, grow and teach from a different perspective. That we all love one another and teach that love to others, if we use less judgement and more faith and consideration of what we are guided to do - then isn't that living our faith? Faith is joy, faith is love, faith is acceptance, faith is the knowledge that there is More. Religion is thought, connection, participation and community.
Putting together our joy, love, acceptance, thought, connection, participation and community can only guide us to calmer seas. I use this wording based upon the Bible verses James 1:2-8. It makes sense, at one point or another we are each like the wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. But, in those moments when we are strong and living our faith we can become the calm and feel the deep fulfillment of God in our lives. And although this verse comes from the New Testament doesn't it apply to all that are faithful to God?
Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,