The Heart of True Religion

John Koedyker

Read: Mark 2:23–3:6

[Jesus] said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (v. 27)

The other day my wife and I were having lunch at a local restaurant. As we conversed with our waitress, we discovered that she knew some people we also knew. In fact, her mother and father were members at a church where I had once been a pastor. As our conversation warmed up, I was shocked to hear this lovely young lady tell us in no uncertain terms that she did not attend church and considered herself “not religious.”

I’ve had a hard time dismissing her words from my mind. It made me sad and I started wondering, “Why would she consider herself ‘not religious’”?

The truth of the matter is that we are all religious. We all have an innate desire to know God—whether we admit it or not! But what often happens is that religion is perceived as rules-keeping. That is the implication in today’s reading: that refraining from work will somehow determine our salvation. Instead, Jesus said that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” In other words, the Sabbath exists to make human life better! Jesus is saying that human need is more important than rules. James wrote that true religion is “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction” (Jas. 1:27). Or, as someone once said, “The best way to worship God is to help people.” —John Koedyker

Prayer: Lord, help us never to forget that love, forgiveness, and service are at the heart of true religion. Amen.