A few thoughts, enumerated:
1) A praise/worship song titled “Fields of Grace” by Big Daddy Weave contains the lyrics, “There’s a place where religion finally dies…there’s a place where I lose my selfish pride…dancing with my father God in fields of grace.” I used to like this. I don’t anymore. Mainly that first part.
2) There’s a passion these days, in contemporary evangelical Christendom, for abandoning religion and pursuing relationship. That’s a big catch-phrase: “It’s not religion, it’s a relationship.” I don’t think I agree. Not so much that the latter is false; I disagree that the former is true.
3) There’s an old song, sung generally by old people, that petitions no one in particular to “Give me that old time religion…it’s good enough for me.” I don’t really know what that means, but I wonder if there’s an idea represented by that song that the singers of the previous song are reacting against.
4) Namely, a certain very bad complacency always stands at the door of the Christian’s heart, offering them the opportunity to engage in thoughtless rituals for the sake of assuaging their formerly-burning spirit. Not that “old time religion” is equivalent with this complacency; a lot of Christians equate them, though.
5) The scriptures exhort their readers to embrace religion!
6) Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)
7) One dictionary definition of “religion” is, “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.” Beliefs and practices.
8 ) The enthusiastic worshipper will protest, “Well, I mean I don’t want any part in dead religion.” By this, I think they mean they want to avoid the kinds of thoughtless rituals mentioned above.
9) Who wants any part in dead things anyways? The singers of “Old Time Religion” would surely disparage dead religion as well.
10) Aren’t the singers of “Fields of Grace” in danger of practicing a thoughtless ritual if they sing that chorus (or any chorus) enough?
11) I should write a song. It’d be called “Fields of Religion.” It would be about the endless possibilities of life with God when we practice our beliefs, shun empty rituals, embrace intentional rituals, care for orphans and widows, and remain unstained by the world. Churches would have to pay me royalties for displaying the lyrics on their huge projection screens.
12) It could be great.