True religion isn’t some sort of insurance policy for the afterlife, some way to avoid the natural consequences of our actions, or a way to climb an alternate social ladder so that we can avoid the messy situations in life. Rather, authentic religion calls us to dive right into those messy situations and pull our brother and sister out – with the only reward being knowing we made the best choice we could while growing into the fullness of who we were created to be. It’s about character, not reward; growth, not avoidance. It’s hard work. Maybe that’s why so many of us choose a cheap substitute that doesn’t require much of us and doesn’t give anything in return.