Practice True Religion
What does it mean to be religious, and why does it matter? Can practicing true religion really make a difference in life? Teenager Evan Carlton explains how he came to understand what being religious is really all about from those who have impacted the world in a big way.
Talking with Friends
When I was in seventh grade, I got into a conversation with a group of my friends about being religious. We were all from different church backgrounds - some were Jewish, some Muslim, some Catholic, and some from other Christian faiths. We were talking about how religious we were, and they asked me how religious I thought I was. I told them I thought I was pretty religious because I went to all the services at my church.
Some of my friends said they were, too, but that they also slept or sent text messages during church services. Some others said they didn't really pay attention in Sunday school. A couple even said they had friends who had vandalized their own church.
I asked my friends why they did some of these things, but I didn't get very good answers. Some of them said they thought church was boring or that their misbehavior didn't really matter. These responses were confusing to me because I thought most people enjoyed the religion they practiced.
As I thought more about my conversation with my friends, I realized that I wasn't sure that just attending church made me religious.
Learning about Others
A couple years later, I took a class in high school that helped me think more about what it means to be religious. It was called Frontiers of Faith and allowed me to study some truly religious people. Doing this challenged and then changed my concept of what it means to be religious.
We studied a number of different people, including Christ Jesus, Martin Luther (the founder of the Lutheran church), and Mother Theresa, who devoted much of her life (about 70 years) to serving the poor. Love was at the heart of everything they did. Jesus explained, "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful" (Luke 6:36). Mercy is a form of love.
Jesus, Martin Luther, and Mother Theresa were living truly religious lives. All three expressed Godlike qualities that we should strive to express in our own lives. They showed me some of the ways to be truly religious:
- Live Love.
- Express God in all activities.
- Never take the “easy” way out.
That's what it means!
Then I realized that being religious means to be actively seeking a better understanding of my relationship with God. While I am not a model of faith, I do try to gain a better concept of my relationship with God by practicing my religion. As a result, I have experienced so many healings and joyous results. I cannot imagine placing my faith anywhere else. I love my religion.
I also discovered that in addition to helping me understand my relationship with God better, my religion:
- Teaches me how to live life to the fullest;
- Destroys imposing limitations right in front of me;
- Helps me understand I am a perfect reflection of God;
- Shows me how to heal.
Finally, here's something that St. Paul wrote that shows how to be religious:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phil 4:8 KJV)
Recognizing that true religion is grounded in love has made a difference in my life, and it can make a difference in yours. Recognizing our God-given right to express God at all times -- day and night -- is a real blessing to ourselves and to the world.