Religion or relationship? With the former representing a tightly woven but personalized sweater from your grandmother and the latter representing loosely held beliefs, worn like comfortable clothing, this has often been the choice in expressions of belief.

What if this is a false binary? What if religion is the way in which you relate to the world and its inhabitants? What if the two are one expression?

Jack D. Forbes writes in Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wetiko Disease of Imperialism, Exploitation and Terrorism: “Religion is, in reality, living. Our religion is not what we profess, or what we say, or what we proclaim; our religion is what we do, what we desire, what we seek, what we dream about, what we fantasize, what we think — all these things — twenty-four hours a day. One’s religion, then, is one’s life, not merely the ideal life but the life as it is actually lived.

“Religion is not prayer, it is not a church, it is not theistic, it is not atheistic, it has little to do with what white people call ‘religion.’ It is our every act,” he continues. “If we tromp on a bug, that is our religion; if we experiment on living animals, that is our religion; if we cheat at cards, that is our religion; if we dream of being famous, that is our religion; if we gossip maliciously, that is our religion; if we are rude and aggressive, that is our religion. All that we do, and are, is our religion.”

The religion that Forbes writes about says that we cannot profess love but practice hate, or say, “Peace, peace” while continuing with habits that cause conflict with nature.

Likewise, we cannot merely say that we are Christians and that be the end of it. No, others must see us live it.

It is not a Sunday morning experience, a committee meeting or a coveted position, a certain amount of money given or perfect attendance in a building. It is not about showing up on time or sitting up straight in a pew and paying attention. It is not measured by our faithfulness to an institution but to ourselves and our community.

This is not another call to “practice what you preach.” Instead, it is an appeal not to preach at all. But to practice the faith until it becomes a habit, and that habit becomes your way of life.

Consequently, we, Christians, do not lose our religion by divesting of institutions that perpetuate systems of hatred and oppression. Instead, persons are leaving the church to follow Jesus and to live the truth of the gospel fully.

It’s a call to embody, a calling that requires deep listening. “Let these sayings sink down in your ears,” American author Arthur Katz said.

It’s a summons to those who ache for a richer fellowship with the world around them and an authentic understanding of the world within them.

Henri Nouwen wrote: “The basis of the Christian community is not the family tie, or social or economic quality, or shared oppression or complaint, or mutual attraction, but the divine call. The Christian community is not the result of human efforts. … Therefore, the Christian community is not a closed circle of people embracing each other, but a forward- moving group of companions bound together by the same voice asking for their attention.”

There need not be a label or another denomination to name this. We need only answer the call and walk towards it.

We don’t have to force it — not on ourselves or anyone else. We need only embrace ourselves and live from the awareness of who we are as Christ’s body and members of one another.

Our very lives should be a continuous expression of belief. We “put on Christ,” the implication of our baptism, and that’s not a simple dress change.

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