Religion is about belief and behavior. How we behave depends on what we believe. The “what” and “why” of life feed into each other. By doing a certain thing we understand why we are doing it. We start to do it by first believing it worthwhile. Behavior is determined by belief, but belief is also determined by behavior. Praxis is acting and doing. Theory is thinking and understanding. We live according to what we believe. We believe according to the way we live. There is a circular interplay. True religion is an integrating force in our lives, so that the whole person is really an integrated personality. Religion is not a view of life, but a way of living. A person’s view of the world reflects a way of living. We express our ethical beliefs in both a concrete and symbolic way. We have to understand what is being done, in order to understand what is said. Religion is a life style, not an idea. Are you challenged to be yourself? Do these religious practices increase your identity? Do they challenge you to be freer? Do they open new horizons? Do they have value? Is your human existence better off? These are the questions you must ask about your religious practice.
The ruined linen loincloth (Jer 13:6-13:7)
“After many days,
Yahweh said to me.
‘Go now to the Euphrates!
Take from there the loincloth
That I commanded you to hide there.’
Then I went to the Euphrates.
I dug it up.
I took the loincloth
From the place where I had hidden it.
But now the loincloth was ruined.
It was good for nothing.”
After many days, Yahweh came to Jeremiah. Once again, he told Jeremiah to go to the Euphrates or Parah to get the loincloth that he had hidden there. So Jeremiah willing went there to dig up the hidden loincloth. He then found it. He noticed that it was ruined and good for nothing. What did he expect? This was probably a symbolic way of talking about the corrupt practices of King Jehoiakim, as well as the people of Judah and Jerusalem, that were good for nothing.