When we hear the word religion, for most of us, there is a negative connotation connected to this word. I know for me, for years now, I have pushed away from any connection to the word religion, associating it with systems, structure, rules, a man made box to put God in that has little to do with the love of God and the freedom he brings. In fact, religion denotes anything but freedom but rather bondage to all the precepts and the guilt and shame that comes with it.
The actual Latin root of the word is “ligio,” meaning to tie or bind together. An example is a woman having her tubes tied, or a tubal ligation. To “re-ligio” means that something that was once tied became untied, and it is now re-tied or bound together again. So in this case, the actual meaning of the word is to be tied back to God, or intimately re-connected to Him.
Religion that the Bible calls true religion is found in James 1:26-27; “Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”
So the last two definitions of religion go together. When we are tied to or connected with the heart of God, his love compels us to take care of the least, last and lost. To meet the needs of the homeless, the brokenhearted, those who desperately need to know the awesome love of God. Looking at it this way, I guess I don’t mind being called religious after all.