“Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another all the more…” Hebrew 10:24-25
A very common statement in our culture these days is that religion is a man-made institution while faith is a personalized spiritual journey. The subtle subtext is that orgianized religion is oppressive and evil because it is institutional while an individualized faith is purer and better.
What lacks in this argument is the development of commnuity. Religion is a community of faith. It unites people. Religion says that at our core, we are not autonomous individuals, but we are people who struggle with the same core issues that people struggled with 2000 years ago (look at the letter to the Hebrews…even they had pillow Presbyterians and mattress Methodists, 70 years after Christ’s death).
We can actually find comfort in knowing that others have gone through similar struggles and challenges—whether job loss, divorce, abuse, parenting, whatever. The MTV generation cry of “You don’t know me!” is a false lament because at our core we are all united in and through God.
The gathered community of faith—a religious group—is not a man-made institution but a God inspired community that seeks to walk (and stumble) through life together.
What may prevent you from gathering together? What ways are you being provoked towards love and good deeds? Do you think that the term “religion” is now seen as a negative word? Why?