Have you got good religion?

Pastoral Messages | May 16, 2019

This week, I am at the Festival of Homiletics in Minneapolis – a conference on preaching. It has been four days of listening to, and being fed by, a diverse group of inspirational preachers and leaders from all backgrounds and denominations, each one different from the next. Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale asked a question I am still thinking about: Have you got good religion?

Have you got good religion? It is so easy for us to say yes. Have you got good religion? Sure I do, I am a practicing Christian with a Lutheran lens. We have sound doctrine, our theology is expansive when it is at its best, and our worship, while steeped in tradition, is open to change. Of course my religion is good. But here is the thing, our faith begs us to ask another question: Is my religion doing any good?

Let’s frame this question within the context of the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man was left on the side of the road, hurt and left for dead after being robbed. Two religious leaders walked right on by without giving a second look. These leaders most likely looked liked him, talked like him, and believed like him. The priest and the Levite didn’t just have good religion, but they would have had the best religion. Another man walked by who didn’t look like the man on the side of the road, didn’t necessarily speak in the same way, or believe the same things. This was the man who stopped to help.

Have you got good religion? Is your religion doing good?

The word Christian can’t just be about who we are, but must be accompanied by what we do in the world. We are given this precious gift of baptism, and the assurance of a daily washing of our sins, and because of this gift we are charged with making a difference and working to bring about God’s kingdom in this world.

Sometimes this work is hard and makes us uncomfortable. But if we are going to be honest with ourselves, good religion isn’t always about feeling good, it’s about doing good.  So many people in this world need help and long for hope. Thank God we have the Holy Spirit to give us courage to look at the hurt on the side of the road, and do something about it.

Have you got good religion? Is your religion doing good?

-Kelsey Fitting-Snyder, pastor in residency

5 Comments on “Have you got good religion?”

  • Debbie Case

    May 18, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    Thank you Pastor Kelsey for the great reminder that religion is much more about what we do in this life rather than just what makes us feel good. Great words of wisdom!

  • Sandy Townsend

    May 18, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    I really appreciated reading your message today. It’s so timely, considering our political climate these days.

  • karen wofe

    May 16, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    i dont know jesus ever suggested or said to be..religious or theologian or have theology..but to love.

  • Dave DeWit

    May 16, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    Great point Kelsey.
    I spent most of my life exposed to “good religion” theologically, but religion that didn’t do much “good” in the world at all.
    The crux of the matter of course is how you define “theologically good”religion.
    It seems to me that in churches for which “good” theology means adhering primarily to the teachings of Paul in his letters to the churches, there is relatively little chance of doing much good in the world at all – at least the kind of “good” I think you are talking about.
    On the other hand, churches for which “good theology” means focusing primarily on the teachings of Jesus as found in the Gospels, there is a much greater chance of of doing the kind of good in the world you are talking about.
    The Paul-driven churches seem to regard doing “good” as getting as many people as possible out of this “miserable” world and into Heaven when they die.

  • Jerry Bowman

    May 16, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Kelsey…. just from a quick, thorough read of your good words, I can be sure, proud and heart-affirming that you’re not from Alabama:)

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