Faith vs religion

This semester, I haven’t been so good about going to church. Coming back from spring break, I made a promise to myself that I would go every Sunday for the rest of the semester. It’s something I value and something that makes me happy.

However, I do not think going to church is necessary for my faith. Maybe for my religion, but not for my faith. I wouldn’t say I was raised particularly religious, but I knew I was a Christian and I knew I needed to be a good person. In the last few years, I have developed more of an interest in the specifics of Christianity, including the Bible. But still, I read it more out of curiosity that out of religious need. And although I feel stronger in my beliefs than probably ever in the past, I wouldn’t necessary consider myself a religious person, but I do consider myself a faithful person. I don’t care too much for the rules and regulations of a church, and I don’t believe every word the Bible tells me. But I have a personal relationship with my god, who I believe is always there, guiding me down the path that I am meant to follow.

So when I say I want to go to church, it’s not because that’s what makes me a Christian or that’s what makes me a good person. I enjoy the community, the music and the reflection that church brings. I should also note that I will not be going to the same church every week. I find it interesting to see how different denominations do things and to hear what different ministers have to say. Plus, churches are pretty, so I like to look at a new one each week. In my travels around the churches of Columbia, and in light of the vast conflict in the world over religious differences, I am always shocked by how similar different denominations – and even different religions – seem to be. Except for Catholicism, Christianity is basically the same no matter where you go. (Who cares how often you take communion?)

And this can even be said of completely different religions. Over the years, I’ve had friends who were Muslim, Hindu and Jewish, and I was always surprised by what was the same among our faiths, because that was much more numerous than what was different. We celebrated holidays around the same times and often for the same reasons, our celebrations revolved around family and food, we had many of the same customs and practices, and, for the most part, we believed in the same god and the same values.

But the most obvious thing to me has always been that the core of religion is really about the same no matter where you are, how you worship or what exactly you believe. Religion and faith are both about connecting with a higher power who can guide you when you’re feeling lost. They’re all about believing in something beyond your own experiences, knowledge and abilities. They’re about connecting with those close to you and reaching out to those in need. They’re about valuing the people around you and treating others with kindness. And that’s something everyone can believe in.

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