When being “spiritual” or “in a relationship” isn’t enough. Our need for religion.

Devotional Thought of the Day:

26  Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ Exodus 12:26 (NLT)

1  As for you, my son, be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus. 2  Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1-2 (TEV)

318         Many years ago now, I saw most clearly a truth which will always be valid: the whole web of society needs a new way of living and spreading the eternal truths of the Gospel, since it has departed from Christian faith and morals. Children of God at the very heart of that society, of the world, have to let their virtues shine out like lamps in the darkness—quasi lucernae lucentes in caliginoso loco. (1)

“What does this mean?” – Martin Luther (throughout both the small and large catechism)

People often respond when they find out I am a pastor with responses indicating that they are “spiritual” or are only interested in a relationship with God.  They might even note they have no need for organized religion, (not a problem if you’ve seen my office) or some other disparaging remark about being religious.  It’s been going on for almost all of my adulthood, as each generation takes up the mantras in a different way.  (you might even say they religiously do so!)

Even among theologians and pastors there is no immunity from this, as when I ask about prayer life or worship or personal Bible study time there is the response that they aren’t pietists.  Some will even justify this by claiming that they aren’t saved by such things. (And a lot of the articles about being in a relationship not a religion are written by people who employed as church workers… imagine that!)

I am going to say this, and I want you to hear it clearly.  We need to be religious!

When Luther’s catechisms were developed, the one question asked over and over is, “what does this mean?”  And then the dialogue would show our need to be in a relationship with God, and how that commandment, belief, prayer, sacrament affected that relationship positively.

I am not talking about heavy theology, I am talking about the basic things a follower of Christ does, that helps them trust in Jesus more.

Growing as we being to Understand Gods will for how we live (the commandments) and how that blesses us.

Growing as we grow deeper in understanding God’s will and actions in creating, healing, and being set apart for that relationship

Growing in our conversation with God, as we learn and pray, giving Him all that causes anxiety and fear, and trusting that He will not only answer those prayers generally, but specifically in our lives.

Growing in appreciation and desire of how God pours out His blessings, His mercy, His peace in those things we call sacraments.  Baptism  (as He adopts us and marks us as His own), Confession and Absolution (as He comforts and heals us in our brokenness and cleanses us from our sin, and the incredible feast celebrating Christ’s work for you.

All of these things are what I think of when I think of religion.  I don’t see anything objectionable to any of them.  We should desire to know God more, but that means on His terms. He’s God after all, and He is Who the relationship depends upon.  Knowing such things, knowing the “why’s”, gives us hope when life is shattered, when we are oppressed, when we are anxious.  A relationship without formed, or formed in our minds cannot do that, for it has no reality in Christ.

Paul told Timothy to pass on what he learned.  He was basically telling him to teach people to answer the “what does this mean” question.

It would be a good question to help people ask. And then, religiously answer it, passing down to others what gives you hope.

God bless you as you ask, and give answers to those who ask.  For this is your religion, revealing the relationship God wants to have with each of us.


(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1506-1509). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on December 23, 2015, in Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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