Religion vs Relationship
Religion vs Relationship
What if you have it all wrong? What if what you are doing is dangerous? What if your good intentions fall short when it matters the most?
Are you religious? Religion is man-made; a set of rules we follow and actions we take. Practicing religion causes us to follow the actions of others, stifles the Holy Spirit and makes God more of an enigma than a beloved Father. It causes us to believe listening to a sermon or reading a devotional is enough and there is no reason to study the Bible for ourselves. It encourages us to put those in ministry on a pedestal and to place our faith in our works instead of God’s grace. It keeps us busy and distracts us from the truth. Satan loves religion.
Religion focuses on how we appear. We may appear to be religious, but God is concerned with the condition of our heart. In Matthew 23:25-28, Jesus is speaking to legalistic rule followers who valued their own guidelines and regulations (hmm… and their opinions) more than they did the Word of God. He called them hypocrites, saying it wasn’t about their outward appearance, but about the condition of their heart. You remember the story – “you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.”
God is not calling us to clean up our outward appearance, pretend to be something we are not, or to act like we love Him. He is not asking us to be legalistic and think we are better than others. No, God is inviting us to have a personal relationship with Him through His son Jesus, who is the Way the Truth and the Life. We are not grandfathered in because our mom or grandparents lived for Him or because we have attended the same church since we were born. He is calling us to transform from the inside out, and that can only take place as we grow to know Jesus more and more personally. It is personal – a one on one relationship – between you and Jesus.
So, how does a relationship with Jesus differ from religion? A relationship requires a connection between people and involvement with one another. Asking Jesus into our heart, believing on Him for salvation, opened the door to this incredible, life changing, transformational connection. Just like with any intimate relationship – love for one another, spending time together, honest communication, authenticity, trust and commitment are required. He knows you and He longs for you to know Him intimately.
Fall in love with Jesus. He is everything we have ever wanted and everything we need. He is our one true hero. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was He replied, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39) How do we fall in love with Him if we have not truly gotten to know Him? Reading through the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – is a great place to start.
Spend time together. When we are in love with someone, finding time to spend together becomes a priority. We get up earlier, stay up later, meet for lunch and do whatever it takes to be together. We invite them to be a part of our everyday life and their importance to us rises to the top of the list. That is where Jesus should be; not a close second, but first. We should study God’s word the way we would listen to a friend talk; pray the way we would pour out our heart to our best friend; and take time to gather with mutual friends so through them we will come to know Him even more.
Be honest and authentic. Jesus already knows you. Oh, yes! He knows everything about you – every…little…thing. He knows how you feel, what you said, what you have done and still He became the propitiation for your sins. So, get real with Jesus. You can talk to Him about anything – but to have an intimate relationship – you also need to listen to Him about everything. He is the answer you need. Be honest about who you are, remember who He is, humble yourself before Him, and let Him reveal the areas in you that need a little transformation. There is a big difference in acting Christ-like and becoming more like Christ.
Trust Him. Trust in an important element in any relationship. When we meet someone and start getting to know them, we wonder can we trust them, will they be here for us, will they love us even if we mess up? Getting to know Jesus helps us digest what He has done for us. The depths of His love and the agony of His suffering is proof we can trust Him. The more we place our trust in Him, the more we will grow into someone He can trust.
Commitment. It takes two committed parties to have a deep intimate relationship. Jesus is committed, are you? No matter where you are on the commitment scale – you can go deeper, know Him more, trust Him more, love Him more and experience a little more transformation in your life. We have an adversary, so it is sure to be a battle to stay the course. We will grow and then lose our way, practice religion and then reconnect our relationship, mature and then become distracted. But one day, one glorious day, we will know Him as we are known. Can you imagine?
There is so much more. Jesus has so much more for you.
Fall in love with Him all over again, make more time for Him, give Him more of you, trust Him more and commit more to Him. There is nothing better. There is nothing that matters more. Jesus did not suffer on the cross so that you could be religious. He wants a loving, committed, intimate and very personal relationship with you. That is what the abundant life is all about. Let’s stop living for this dying and wicked world. Let’s stop going through the motions and practicing religion. Let’s fall in love with Jesus and live a life of meaning and purpose as we pursue Him. Let’s experience joy and peace and rest in Him, no matter our circumstances. Let’s follow His lead and focus on honoring and glorifying the One who set this world in motion.
*** Much of today's post is from the book, "Saved by Grace, Now What?".
A Message from Pam:
During March, we are talking about "Religion vs. Relationship". We don't want to be religious. We want to have a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus! Stay tuned because I will be sharing pics from the Holy Land and more posts this month. Stay connected to Master What Matters.
Do you know Jesus? If you just aren't sure, download the Plan of Salvation and read through the scriptures. I would love to chat with you about it. Feel free to reach out to me.
You are invited to visit the Marketplace where you will find the book - Saved by Grace, Now What? and graphic tees, connect with Master What Matters via our Facebook page, Facebook group, Instagram, and subscribe to us on YouTube (just look for the Master What Matters logo).
Invite your friends! Let's travel this journey together and get to know Jesus more and more!