Relationship Not Religion

Recently someone commented to me saying that they were ‘not a good religious person’.

I answered briefly by saying that God loves you as you are no strings attached, but loves you way too much to leave you that way. That is the truth. A truth that can transform.

This is a longer response to her and others who think like she does. I hope this helps. I once thought I had to earn God’s love that I had to work for my ticket to heaven. I no longer think like that. I have discovered the good news. The really good news that God loves me so much He forsook heaven to incarnate on earth to live a fully human life showing us what being human really looks like and dying on a cross to reconcile all of creation back to Him. Now, He calls all our us into a relationship that will save and transform each of us. His life, death, and resurrection is for all.

Knowing that God loves me more than I will ever comprehend saved and is transforming me into who God made me to be. I want to shape my life by this love and point others to the same love and grace and walk by them towards God’s light. My intention of becoming a pastor is not about hiding in a dusty building but living fully, loving radically, and spreading joy and hope wastefully. We shouldn’t hide behind the pulpit or in the pews, but be the church in a world that desperately needs the love and grace of God more and more.

Steve Brown: God isn’t angry at His people and won’t be angry at anyone who comes to Him. Our sin is big…and God’s grace is bigger. It’s okay to trust God.You can laugh and sing and be free, because the Son makes you free. You don’t become faithful in order to get loved and get free…you are already free and loved. 

In both Luke and Mark Jesus says No one is good–except God alone. 

It is not about being good. No one can ever be good on their own. The more we try to be good, the more we will fail. If we could make ourselves good than we would not need Jesus. 

 Jesus died for our sins. God sets things right and makes it possible for us to live with him. God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. Our lives come into right order by letting God guide our path, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the show. The more we try to run the show the more of a mess we make. Jesus makes us into our best self.

Jesus is the breaker of all barriers. Jesus transcends all categories, even the religion created in his name. It’s not about religion or church; it’s all about Jesus. It’s not about religion or religious activities; it’s all about relationship. Jesus calls, we answer. He makes us right with God. We could not do it on our own. Jesus did it. Jesus does it. All we can do is receive it and extend the same to others.  Not out of any sense of obligation or because God need’s us to do it, but from a deep sense of gratitude and awareness for the grace that has been lavished on us.

Romans 11: “For everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power, and everything is for his glory.”

C. S. Lewis: The Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to do good. The Christian thinks any good he does come from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us… 

I didn’t always know the love of God. Before I encountered Jesus and his gospel, my life was troubled with guilt, fear, shame, and despair. My central preoccupation growing up was that I was wrong and I could do nothing about it. I had to try though, because no one was going to do it for me. The amazing fact that confronted me was that Jesus did it all on the cross for me and all of creation. The sure and saving knowledge that God loves me as I am, but way too much to leave me that way has changed everything about me and how I see the world. My growing awareness of being loved and accepted for who I am is not from myself, but God working in me.

A Christian is not worried about being good or religious or any of the sort. A Christian does not point fingers or bash people over the head with the Bible. A Christian does not do violence or wage war or are overly concerned about how others live their lives.

A Christian loves the unmovable, forgives the unforgivable, accepts the unacceptable, and includes the excluded. A Christian always shows the love of God found in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior using words only when necessary. I don’t always do this, so in some instances, I am not a Christian, other times I am. If I could always live as a Christian than I wouldn’t need a Savior, but I stumble and sometimes fall flat on my face, so I do need a Savior. I call on my Savior through out my day.

Christianity is not about a religion or the church, but a person: Jesus Christ.

I don’t call myself religious, because the false notion behind religion is that doing all the things religion tells us to do will save us, help us live life to the fullest, or grant us anything. Only following Jesus and accepting his love and grace will save us, help us live life to the fullest. All religion is a lie if it tells us that we can earn our salvation. All religion is a lie if it says it can lead us to eternal life.

Let us follow in the footsteps of Peter, Paul, St. Francis, Saint Therese of Lisieux,  C.S. Lewis, Bono, Martin Luther King jr. NT Wright, Tony Campolo, Jay Bakker, and Desmond Tutu. Let us live our lives surrounded and shaped by the unconditional and limitless love of God.

In the end, it’s all about relationship with God than trying to be religious or good. Jesus makes us right through his life, death, and resurrection. We don’t need to be more religious or try harder to be good, but accept the love and grace of God found in Jesus.

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 6:35, 11:25-26)

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1 Comment

  1. I can really relate to the “trying to be good” mindset. I used to think that way, and I ended up feeling very condemned, and not free at all.

    Thank you for pointing out that it’s not about being good. My mindset now is that Jesus has made us “children of God” and so as a child of God, a brother of Jesus, I want to “show the family resemblance” so to speak.

    I think this is another way of saying what you said…”A Christian loves the unmovable, forgives the unforgivable, accepts the unacceptable, and includes the excluded.”

    Thanks for a very thoughtful post!

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