Religion is a human construct serving human need. I am not being iconoclastic here, simply logical. God the Almighty can have no intrinsic “need” to be worshipped; need suggests lack, and God, being perfect, cannot lack anything.
We, on the other hand, have much need of God and religion. Religion is important because it supplies us with a structured, community context and tradition within which to express our need for God and gives us words with which to reach out to God when our own words fail us.
Religion also provides an opportunity for us to reach out to each other in our suffering. It reminds us that we are all in this together. Which is why it is so disappointing that no one extended a hand to me from my parish community on the death of my son. The Jewish Rabbi and the Executive Director, at whose synagogue I work, were at my house within hours, offering their presence and support. My family all gathered immediately. My neighbors and friends fed us for a week and more. But my Church? I know that no one knows what to say after a suicide, but someone should have tried. We are, after all, God’s hands and feet on earth. What is the point of a faith community if it doesn’t reach out to people whose faith is being sorely tested?
But then I ask myself, am I not just like everyone else in my parish — waiting for the clergy to act and not accepting any responsibility for ministering to others myself? Waiting to receive but not offering to give? Who have I ever reached out to in my parish? What service have I ever offered except that which made me feel good — singing in the choir? I don’t much like my answer.
It seems that Christians spend a lot of time worshipping Christ and not emulating him. It is pretty clear in the Gospels, however, which he would have preferred.