BUZZ word!! “Religion”

Bear with me, one more conversation with C.S. Lewis. (I never tire of this man.)

Recently, I wrote a brief word study on “religion” for Swagga4Christ Ministries. Wouldn’t you know, the very next day in my C.S. Lewis Daily devotional from Bible Gateway, the sage himself wrote on the topic. So I thought I’d share our perspectives. It’s a hot, controversial topic. I’d love for you to add your voice!

My words:

Bound by Freedom

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

No one really knows where it came from. The word “religion” is kind of mysterious. For hundreds of years, scholars have debated its origin.
One opinion I stumbled upon bothered me at first. Modern scholars think it might have been derived from the Latin word ligo, meaning “bind or connect”.
I got hung up on the word “bind”. Many people today view religion that way. They feel that it binds them, constrains them to a certain list of rules. But Galatians 5:1 says that Christ set us free, so our faith must have nothing to do with being bound. However, there is a different kind of binding, of connecting. Colossians 3:14 says, “Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.” The Christian faith is not merely a religion. Jesus came to bring us freedom from the law—a long list of do’s and dont’s. But it is also the love of Christ that creates harmony among believers. We must be diligent as we enjoy our freedom in Christ that we work for unity among our Christian brothers and sisters.

C.S. Lewis:

I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!’
Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.
From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

What do you think?
Is religion the same as faith in Christ?
Do you need Jesus to get to Heaven?
How do you experience Christ?

4 thoughts on “BUZZ word!! “Religion”

  1. I believe it is all about Jesus Christ. We are saved because of his Sacrifice. We have hope because of His promises. We know how to live because of His example. Also let us not forget He said “if you love me you will keep my commandments” He left us His word to live by, The Bible.

  2. Hmmm, interesting …. Bound by Freedom, I think I like that ! Bind isn’t such a bad word. Where would a book be without it’s binding that holds it all together ? If pages could speak, I don’t think they would have a problem with their binding do you ? (you’re an author and know about such things 🙂 )

    A binding promise is a good thing, I think, as it works both ways. If we know that whatever we do, there will be binding love, then we can get on with doing what we must do without worrying. God promised we would have that before we were even born and it will not change. If we share that love with him and others we are “bound” to find hope and joy.

    I think “link” is a good word. Chains have links but of course chains are not always used for good. However, use a large number of links to connect an anchor with a 1,000 ton ship and you have an amazing result. that ship can be kept from running onto the beach or onto the rocks. Each link can do nothing on its own. A bit like us ?

    I remember someone saying that Christians are like snowflakes. Each snowflake on its own is fragile and insignificant, but linked together they can stop traffic.

    I love the piece from CS Lewis (as you know, I’m another of his greatest fans).
    What a brilliant concept about the map and the Atlantic !

    I can see exactly what he means and it reminds me of the wonderful flights down to Cornwall in the Piper Warrior in perfect hot and sunny weather last July. Perranporth comes close to paradise on Earth with it’s long, wide golden sandy beaches, deep blue sea, craggy cliffs, fragrant gorse bushes and soaring sea-birds but we cannot make the 400 mile round trip without the boring and cluttered 1:500,000 aviation chart.

    The aviation chart tells us nothing about Perranporth itself. There is very little detail on the chart but JUST enough to show us where we are going and the ways we can choose to get there.

    This is the bit I’d like to add to CS Lewis (if he will forgive me) : the chart has the information we need BUT it’s down to me, and only me what route I choose to fly. I link the places together to give me the chain : Blandford, Exmouth, Totnes, Plymouth, Saint Austell and then finally Perranporth is revealed in all its glory. Even if I have to change the route, the chart will show me my options.

    The aviation chart is from the CAA (like your FAA) which is not God (though the CAA sometimes seems to think it is), but the BIBLE is from God and although it doesn’t give us a detailed Pilot Log of the exact route, times and distances to Eternity, it maps out the things we need to know and the points we can use on the way. It’s up to us to make our own Pilot Log and Flight Plan and check or progress against the chart and what we can see en route i.e. all the links in the chain.

    As well as learning to fly aeroplanes, one of the MOST important things I learnt in the last few years was that if things change it is NOT the end of the world and all is NOT lost. God has a miraculous way of saying “Hmmm, that wasn’t quite the way I intended, and you have chosen a different route, but never mind, I can work with that. It may take a little longer and it may hurt a bit but we will get there”. He never gives up, so why should we ?

    CS Lewis is 100% right (as usual) and we are fools if we don’t learn from the experiences of others. Life isn’t long enough to learn everything ourselves, so we need to learn from others who have made that journey before. For me, CS Lewis is a one of those people. Charles Lindbergh made an incredible flight and made it all the way across the Atlantic on his own in a VERY basic single-engine aircraft. When he stepped out of “The Spirit of St Louis” in Paris he said “where am I ?”. However, he knew he had done the incredibly hard part and the last bit was easy to fix. He had learnt from Alcock & Brown and every pilot has learnt from those amazing pioneers. Many techniques and engineering principles have not changed since then.

    Similarly, there are people in the Old Testament who shared similar problems, experiences and feelings to us and found the ways that God could help them. Many things have not changed in thousands of years. Following those links in the chain will help us on our way forward.

    One of my favourite pieces of borrowed wisdom is from Rick Warren (you’ve heard it before !) :
    “Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be !”

    For me, this quotation makes every journey seem easier and more worthwhile.



    1. David, my friend, so good to read your nourishing words again! I especially loved your line:
      “A binding promise is a good thing, I think, as it works both ways. If we know that whatever we do, there will be binding love, then we can get on with doing what we must do without worrying. ”
      That’s true in so many relationships. We can make it through the hard things, the scary things, the worrisome things if we know there is a bond of love that will be there no matter what.
      Your aviation comparisons are always so interesting, especially as I have no way to directly relate to them. 🙂 But the image you paint is spectacular. And yes, we can often look to the guide or rules as if they were God (I just journaled a ton about this this morning from Romans 12 and Deut. 8 and John 6). But they are not God, in fact they are there to show us how much we NEED Him as our sole pilot!
      Blessings Friend!!

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