Christianity. That’s what I’m going to talk about today. I’m going to talk to you about why this isn’t meant to be religion. This is mean to be a relationship.
What is religion? What is the definition of it? Well, if I peek into my Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, it gives four meanings.
- The service and worship of God or the supernatural
- Devotion to a religious faith
- A personal set or institutionalized system of religious beliefs, attitudes, and practices
- A cause, principle, or belief held to with faith and ardor
You can see these things have something in common: Doing. The third meaning especially sells this. This is important for Christians. Very.
But, it’s not the highest priority.
Religion would indicate you know of God. However, based on God Himself, He wants us to know Him. Not just of Him, but Him Himself.
Religion gets us caught up in the rituals of reciting scripture or saying a particular prayer each morning. That’s religion.
So, what is a relationship with God?
There is a key difference because you can be religious and not have a relationship. But, you can have a relationship and be religious. Let me say that again, but in a different way.
Having a relationship with God does not make you religious, nor is being a religious person a necessity. Being religious does not mean you will have a relationship with God. But, why not?
There is one key factor: Accepting Jesus as your Savior. It’s actually impossible to have a relationship with God without this. You can study scripture all day. Pray the Lord’s prayer. Go to church. Sing in the choir. But, this doesn’t mean you have a relationship.
Consider this: Think about the closest relationship you have. Think about that person (or group I guess). How did you become close to this person? A very likely answer is talking to this person all of the time. Spending time with him.
It’s the same with God. To establish a relationship, we must spend time with God Himself. Talk to Him. These other things are nice, but they won’t directly lead you to knowing who God is. You will know of Him, but not Him.
With relationship, comes religion.
When you decide to get to know God more, it will eventually lead you to do the religious things. However, the key difference here is that you are doing this to please Him. Because you love Him. Without that relationship factor, you will find yourself going through the motions because “that’s the way it is”.
But, if you seriously reflect on certain things, you will understand that religion is needed. Jesus mentioned a couple of times at least. He talked about the Lord’s prayer and the Lord’s supper. The prayer is technically a template on how to pray, but we’ve adopted the prayer as something along the lines of ritual. Anyway, there are times when we need to do things over and over. A system, as the definition of religion suggests.
I stand in the idea that religion means very little to God if our main goal is not to have a relationship with Him. That’s basically where I’m coming from.
As children of God, we need to embrace the idea that God wants us to know Him. He so desires the relationship you have with your best friend. You generally turn to that best friend for a lot of things; even “just to talk”. God wants that. He wants to be someone you can turn to no matter what.
He won’t let you down, either. That’s the kicker.
But, let me go back. So, let’s define the word “relationship”.
- The state of being related or interrelated
Huh, well that doesn’t give us much to work with, huh? What does related mean, then?
- Connected by some understood relationship
- Connected through membership in the same family
Well, isn’t that interesting? Especially that second one. When we accept Jesus, we become part of a very large family. We are related to God because He now lives in us. He is in us and we have His life.
As you can also tell, we can’t be related if we’re not in the same family. As I mentioned before, the only way we can have a relationship is if we accept Jesus. By definition, being part of the same family means you can be related and have a relationship. Maybe I’m twisting words here, but in this case, it’s true.
There is only one way to God, and that’s through Jesus. So yeah, my twisting words isn’t really something bad. You could even say I’m not twisting words for my liking.
Let’s recap being in a relationship with God, in accordance to the definitions we’ve seen and knowing that only through Jesus can we even access God.
So, we accept Jesus into our lives. God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit comes in us and gives us new life. Considering we are made in God’s image spiritually, we become alive and share God’s likeness the same way a child shares their parents’ likeness.
We are now related to God. At this point, we can proceed to have a relationship with Him. We are related officially. We are connected (in both meanings of the word related) by Jesus…really the Holy Spirit.
I said relationship leads to religion. I think that’s how it should be. I think you need to prioritize getting to know God first. You will find that, by trying to get to know God, you will end up doing things that seem religious, but are not quite that way.
Let me share another idea of why it’s important to have a relationship.
Knowing verses and prayers and all of that won’t get you into heaven. In an extension of relationship as we talked about earlier, being a relative of God is the only way you get into heaven. Remember, through Jesus we get into heaven. Through Jesus we have a chance at relationship.
Let me pause here because I just said something that almost contradicts this whole post.
Through Jesus, we have a chance at relationship. The relationship is not guaranteed. You have to make it work. Just like with any relationship, it takes time. Still, only through Jesus can you achieve this relationship.
Anyway, if you are not related to God, you cannot make it into heaven. God isn’t going to ask you about how many hail Mary’s you sent up. He’s not going to ask you if know how many verses there are in the Bible (you can Bing that anyway). Only one thing matters to get inside: Are you related to me? Have you accepted my Son…my seed? Are you in my likeness?
So, focus on enhancing that. Figure out God, and then move onto the religious efforts.
Well, it’s commanded of us. God says if we love Him, we’ll keep His commandments. See that? It starts with God. I think it’s darn near impossible to love someone that you don’t know. You can show love, but you’d likely not do what that person says just because.
We also know that a religion is something that can change…it’s not absolute. I mean, God is never going to change so His standards never change. I mean our interpretation of these things can change. I talked about this before. There are plenty of denominations in Christianity alone. Different “religions”. Which one will you follow? Which one is right? But, if you know God…if you have a relationship with Him, you will be able to understand what He wants from you.
Denominations are indeed the result of various interpretations. But, as I’ve said in an older post, a LOT of them are along the lines if nick picking.
See that? It gets complicated with religion. Start with God first. He’s the best person to tell you what He wants you to do. Get to know the man behind the religion. Plenty of denominations are out there based off of “this is what I think” versus “this is what God revealed to me”. There’s a hole in that statement but that’s for another post.
I hope you understand that it’s more than religion. It needs to be. If we focus too much on the details of the religion, we miss the main point of it all. The person behind it all. The reason behind it all.