Is God Really Religious??

(An article for the April 1994 Deep Cove Crier)
As I have visited many people over the years, a number have told me that they are not religious. They are often surprised when I respond: "Who ever told you that God is religious? Spirituality is not about religion. It is about relationship!"

According to a record poll by Environics Research Group, 60% of Canadians agree with the statement "I'm not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person." Spirituality, even in this very busy stressful world, is still very important to most Canadians. Other survey findings by Environics Research Group back up this perception. The survey discovered that 82% of Canadians consider it important to have a frame of reference for making moral decisions. 78% consider developing their own philosophy of life to be important. 69% consider having a spiritual inner life to be very or somewhat important. 62% say that prayer is important. 58% feel that searching for the meaning of life is very or somewhat important. All these research findings are strong indicators that Canadians, while very private and almost shy about their spirituality, are a deeply spiritual people.

God Forbid!!
When at the age of 13 my mother suggested that one day I might become a priest, I couldn't think of any worst suggestion. From Grade 3 to Grade 10, I was convinced that like my father I would become an electrical engineer and work in the area of Telecommunications. Why then did I become a priest, you might wonder? It wasn't because I suddenly became religious. I was not religious as a teenager. I preferred skiing on Sunday morning. Religion has never attracted me. What grabbed my interest at age 17 was Relationship. I, like that survey just mentioned, was seeking to develop my own philosophy of life, and was searching seriously for the meaning of life. While in Grade 12, 1 met some young people who seemed to have more inner peace, more fulfillment, and better relationships than the rest of my friends. I was curious as to what made these teenagers different. I said to them: "Whatever you have, I want it." They said to me: "It's a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. With unusual openness, I said: if that's what works for you, I want it too." So I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my life and fill me with peace. I was amazed at how different I felt inside. I hadn't become religious. I had just discovered a new source of inner peace.

Breaking the chains
Since then, I discovered that not even church has to be done in a religious way. I was amazed to discover that it was okay to have fun in church, to laugh and sing and even dance. I had always thought of church as something you endure in order to fulfill some religious obligation or duty. I had never imagined that having a relationship with Jesus could be more fun than going to a party or getting drunk. What I've discovered is that religion binds you down" with a lot of rules and external rituals, but spirituality sets you free to, enter into deeper more intimate relationships with God and those around you. Even the Latin root for "religion" (religare) means literally "to bind" (ligare), I have discovered to my surprise that the Bible is not a religious book, that Jesus is not a religious person, and that God is not particularly interested in religion. My prayer for the Seymour/Deep Cove Community is that we may be liberated from the chains of religion, and released into the freedom of intimate spiritual relationship.

 Reverend Ed Hird Rector,
 St. Simon's Anglican Church

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