Faith and religion

Author's Note: This is very rough---but I've been writing about it for the past few nights and feel like I should just post it already. I'm sure I'll go back and make more edits as I continue to try and wrap my brain around faith...

This week I heard someone say, "...and that's the difference between religion and faith." So, for the past few nights, I've been trying to figure this out. I know there is a difference between faith and religion, but explaining it is harder than it seems.

To me religion is a human institution---it's facilitated by humans and often created by humans. When I look at religion in this light, it scares me because human institutions are temporary. Religion also tends to become a series of steps--a to-do list for achieving spirituality. I know that fellowship with other believers (this often comes in the form of bible studies, small groups, etc) is essential, but I fear that if I attend small groups, Sunday school, commit to a one-year Bible reading plan, etc. that it'll just be one more thing to add to the to-do list. I'm afraid my faith and my relationship with God would lose meaning.

Faith is incomprehensible. When trying to describe it, I find myself tongue tied and stammering. Faith is messy---it doesn't come in a square box wrapped with iridescent paper and adorned with a beautiful ribbon. Sometimes faith comes to us at our lowest and most despicable moments. Faith is knowing without seeing; it's walking through complete darkness when the world feels as if it's crumbling around you yet still feeling some peace because you just know there is a purpose, a divine reason for this darkness. Though I've met some pretty rough times that brought me to my knees wanting to throw faith away, faith has remained. While religion is a human institution, faith is created by God. I don't know all the theological reasons why faith exists, nor do I really want to know these---I like that faith has left me stammering, lying in my bed in awe as I try to figure this thing out via a measly blog post.

Religion doesn't leave me with the same kind of wonder that faith does. Instead, religion often makes me tired, irritated, and cynical. And for these reasons, I don't want religion. I want faith.

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