Religion: For Our Sake – Not God’s Sake
Thoughts on the First Reading – Joe Frankenfield
Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1
As we grabbed a moment of peace and quiet in a local coffee shop, I asked a friend of mine why he had left the Church. His answer was interesting. “Once I was riding through town with a co-worker who drove through a school zone at the same speed that he had driven the rest of our trip. I mentioned that it was three o’clock. He responded that he had checked and that there weren’t any cops in sight. That’s why I left the Church: too many people watching for the cops instead of the kids.”
Another colleague once observed that the problem with most people isn’t that they aren’t religious enough, it’s that they aren’t human enough.
We Christians speak of faith as though it were frosting spread over life to make it sweet and beautiful – or at least tolerable. Maybe that comes from our view of revelation: we have the impression that God gives us faith directly from some heavenly sanctuary, by-passing the everyday of life. In reality, religion bubbles to the surface from deep within life. As we sense its presence, we ritualize it and speak of God as life’s source and promise.
Back to my friend in the coffee shop. Some folks accept the standard view of faith that our prayer pleases God and our sin offends God and that is the point of both. We miss that prayer makes us more appreciative of life’s beauty and more determined to transform its ugliness. We are not faithful for God, we are faithful to God for ourselves. That is indistinguishable from being faithful to creation and to life – to everyone’s life. The ability to live faithfully is God’s gift to us.
Living faithfully is no more about pleasing God than slowing down through a school zone is about avoiding a ticket. How can we not know that!