I’m not even sure why they were knocking on doors – maybe it was for a community survey that our church was doing or maybe they were gathering information for the census – but I was with my Mom and Dad one day when they were going door to door. One of the questions that they were asking was: “What religion are you?”
At one home, a woman answered the door. When she was asked the religion question, the woman answered. Then my Mom and Dad asked about her husband. He was somewhere else in the house at the time. And the woman called to him through the house, “Husband, what is your religion?”
At the time, it struck me as a really strange thing for her to say. I remember thinking: this man is her husband and she doesn’t know what his religion is! I can’t even recall what his answer was, but even as a child I realized that something important was missing in that home.
For many people, religion is a label, a heritage, a title, a category. As long as we can identify something – anything – we feel secure. As long as we can say, “That’s my group,” we believe that we have answered the question. And, sometimes, it’s a matter of what our parents believed, or which list our name appears on, or where we are allowed to have a wedding. That’s our “religion.”
What God offers us, though, is so much more than that.
Through the Prophet Jeremiah, God revealed the name of the Promised One. We are told in this passage that He would be called “The Lord Our Righteousness” – a name that points to right relationship with God. Which is exactly what Jesus makes possible: right relationship with God. And notice all that happens when this Promised One arrives: wisdom, justice, salvation, and safety!
When people talk about religion, they might be talking about a lot of different things – and many of those things might be good things. But when the subject comes up, let’s make certain that right relationship with God is at the center of our conversation – because if it’s not, religion doesn’t mean a thing.