religion=self control?

i read an interesting report today in the New York Times. it discussed the research that sociologists have conducted on religion and the relationship it has with peoples self control. the research showed that those who have religion involved in their lives practice better self control with things such as alcohol. they wear their seat belt more often than those who do not practice religion. i found this report to be rather interesting. i try and steer clear of religion for its stereotype it delivers. the concept is often times misused and therefore not handled properly. i believe that the proper perspective of religion is understanding that religion is created by man. Christ did not ordain catholics, baptists, Lutherans, or Episcopalians. he came to demonstrate a new way of living life. selflessly. i wonder if the report might have actually encountered a few who actually practiced a healthy relationship with Christ. see too many times the church has allowed themselves to be identifies by their type of religion. not the status of their relationship. think about it. what is better? claiming an idea that says it knows how to serve God or claiming to know God for yourself? unfortunately the latter of the two is often times neglected. i guess this article just got me wondering if we as a body of believers are letting the world see our religion or our relationship. its an interesting dynamic of the christian faith… actually walking with Christ and not the title of your religion. i meet more baptist and fewer christians every time i attend church. do not get me wrong. there are many strong believers who do not identify themselves with a religious title but there are also those who would let you know they are a baptists and thats all that matters. i pray that my generation will not be so limited in our thinking. i pray that we as a church will begin to rediscover the beauty of a relationship and begin demonstrating this dynamic to the lost world around us. this way they stop identifying our lives as influenced by religion and start seeing it as being transformed by the Savior.


7 thoughts on “religion=self control?

  1. I think there are two ways of thinking about religion. One is the way you are describing – religion is a set of rules you follow, a list of things you ‘agree’ with that supposedly make you ok in God’s book. I wholeheartedly agree with you that this is a bad place to begin thinking about God.

    But, I don’t think religion has to be the bad word it has become in so many circles. What if, instead, we thought of religion as the vehicle that puts us into communion (relationship) with God and our fellow man? I believe that, as Desmond Tutu says, it is impossible to be a Christian by yourself. I think that religion, the infrastructure, symbols, liturgy, etc. of faith is what makes it possible to form the community of faith and pursue God. I think that, while those words -symbols and liturgy- are maybe more associated with a tradition like mine (Anglican) that is associated with more formal worship and such, they are actually present, and helpful in the forming of community, in nearly all religious traditions.

    Let me underscore that I’m not disagreeing with what you are saying. I think that religion defined in one way is a life denying, futile thing. However, if we look at this dusty old word and think about the author of James writing that our “religious” service is to help the widow and the orphan we can think of new ways to embrace this word. Religion is what helps us in forming the relationship you’re talking about.

  2. good points quinn. i completely agree with the religion being a vehicle and probably should have done a better job describing the beauty of religion instead of just the negatives that can occur. i guess i see religion being misused and therefore the concept of religion becomes tainted in some sense.

  3. When I left the fundamental Church of Christ….the constant comment was “Oh, you’re a Baptist now.” which, by the way, was a bad word….Baptist!
    My constant reply was, “I am a Christian who goes to a Baptist church.”

    I think that there is a difference in religion as Quinn practices, and the “religious programs” that we sometimes participate in. True religion has its place, but religious programs take away from the spirituality of ” the church” and replace them with duties and responsibilities that attempts to make one “appear” religious in the absence of true religion.

  4. i could not agree more. we often do “chores” if you will to make ourselves feel good about ourselves and become like the Pharisees of Christ day.

  5. I fear that we see terms like religion and religious programs as way too negative. My spiritual walk is all about my relationship with Jesus Christ and what He would have me do. However, I worry that we are sending young people away from the church by putting down “terms” and “programs”. I know a lot of dear sweet committed Christians who call themselves Baptists and are dedicated to duties and responsibilities; however, they are doing it all from the right heart and for the right reason. They are not saying Baptist is more important than Christian, it’s just what they say. There is good and bad on both sides of the coin persay. Some people use their negative views of religion and religious terms to turn away from the church. Some people use church and it’s programs as a crutch and don’t have the walk.
    It gets into judging. Neither is totally right and neither is totally wrong. I want people to realize that their walk is what they make it through their relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s not from their church, it’s not from their pastor, it’s not from their programs, it’s not from their works…non of which are bad, but they are not the answer to your spirituality.
    One of my new’s year resolutions (another term) is to study to improve myself and my impact upon others (i.e. discipleship, charity) and not analyze what is wrong so much. There will always be wrong in this world because we are human. We will always make mistakes, but I want to stop analyzing it so much and just get going with God. Don’t get me wrong, I know we should learn from our failures. But, I do believe we spend too much time and energy on books, etc. that just talk about the negativity of the church today.
    Love you all and your views!

  6. momma eva thank you for your comment. its funny that your resolution is what you said cause that is definitely one of mine. in my initial review of the article i was focusing on the negative side of religion and how it can be often times a bad thing for people. however, i seem to neglect the positives because writing on the negatives makes ones self feel better because they can point out the flaws of another. i need to do a much better job of seeing benefits and life and keep the negative things in perspective. thanks you for reminding me of the importance of doing so

  7. Great points Eva. I think it has a lot to do with your spiritual gifts, and how God calls you to worship him. Fritz and my dear friend Joyce Harmon are doers. God calls them to do in so many ways for so many people. It seems that in the “do” department for me, I treasure time with an intimate few, and I want to be a bridge to those who are completely outside of Christ.
    Fritz appreciates organized time with other Christians. For me, a person who goes “yuck” to any kind of structure, I would much rather pick up a guy who obviously needs a ride, or be-friend someone at school who has been hurt by Christians in the past.
    Thanks, Eva, for the reminder that it is the relationship with Christ that matters in the implementation of programs as well as in the personal walk. Whether it be leading a study, teaching Sunday School, or just helping somebody with their homework, we all worship, as we are called, in our everyday lives both in and out of the structure of the church.

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