Is Religion Important?
Religion has been getting a lot of grief these days. It is portrayed as the enemy of relationship and viewed as stodgy and corrupt. There is a general consensus among young people that religion is dead. And with religion go denominations, traditions and many aspects of historical Christianity. But is this a good thing? Religion is a system; it is an attempt to frame a spiritual experience for the benefit of others. It creates boundaries and recommends practices. Some religions insist on certain behaviors and patterns of life. It can be a very invasive way to connect with God. People hate religion because the methods of connecting can become an obstacle; an unnecessary hurdle that stands in between us and God.
Today we take advice from Christian mentors regarding worship, reading and prayer. Our churches are non-denominational. We promote a movement of justice and love. Some of us soak up doctrine while others focus on service. The main point is that we skip the bull. Jesus didn't need a bureaucracy to lead his group of twelve and neither do we.
I have some bad news for the religion haters: we are not doing away with religion; we are just creating a new one. The new rules are still rules and we have to be careful. Religion can obfuscate our relationship with Christ but it can also serve as important guide for our spiritual formation. Spiritual giants of the past have attempted to lead others into a growing relationship with Christ. They frame a process of spiritual formation that can be passed on. Any manmade system is going to suffer from human vanity. No system will be perfect; none old and none new. Examine your system of belief and consider the role of religion in your own life.