Religion or relationship?

According to the dictionary, the word “religion” comes from religare (Latin) to restrain, hold back, tie up. Where we get the word relegate. It has to do with devotion, in the sense of commitment, fervency, adherence. In that sense, some of the most religious people I have ever met are atheists. They deny it, of course, and insist that the only valid definition for religion has to do with deity. That way they can control the dialogue, keep someone else from defining them, and keep Christianity defined in terms that fit their practiced dialectic. Although religion is commonly and usually used in reference to commitment to a deity, the root idea, the etymological concept has more to do with the actions, adherence, fervor and ritual. It is something that holds, ties – a set of rules.
Jesus said,  “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” He also said,  “I am the way, the truth, and the life….” Christianity is about knowing Him.
By the most common usage of the word, and the most common dictionary definition, yes, Christianity is a religion. However, “religion” is perhaps the worst thing that ever happened to Christianity.
Religion is a set of acts. Christianity is something you live. Religion is something you do. Christian is something you are. Religion is something you defend. Christianity is about simply knowing Him, trusting Him, and growing in your relationship with Him.
Now, if religious acts, liturgy, rituals help you do that, that’s fine. But remember, those religious acts, liturgies, and rituals are not what make you a Christian, and doing them because they are there to be done, because it’s a rule to follow or law to obey is in the long term an empty, dead work. You wind up centering your life on the religious act and not on the Lord to whom those acts are to lead.
There are some things that are important parts of the Christian life, not because they are mandated rules, but because of the nature of Christianity as a relationship with God, and because they help us know Him.
Relationships are about communication. Communication is vital to any relationship. So, reading the Bible, praying, and meditation are important. But if we do them because its part of our rules, like a Christian commandment, even these things will become dead, useless, lifeless works. Prayer is talking to God. However, since He’s God, what He has to say is more important than what you have to say. So reading the Bible, studying it, meditating on it, is a vital part of the Christian life. Meditation for the Christian is not like meditation in eastern religions. It isn’t an emptying of the mind. It is thinking about Him and His words. It’s shutting out the noise and voices of the world and considering Him and His thoughts, His message. It’s listening to Him, letting His Spirit speak to your spirit. Rather than emptying, it’s choosing what you are filled up with.
Christianity is not about “going to church.” The church is people, not a building. The church is Christians, all Christians, “the body of Christ.” When Christians get together, the church meets – on the street, in the catacombs, in a coffee shop, or in a church building – wherever.
Christianity involves “evangelism.” Evangelism can take a variety of forms. What expression it takes in your life, as a general rule, or at any specific day or time, should result from your constant relationship of walking with, talking with, and listening to God. You may be quiet and easy-going, and believe you should live your faith rather than be “preachy.” Then one day you feel strongly impressed that God is telling you to share boldly with a specific individual, or even stand on a street corner and preach. And, much to your surprise, it has a powerful effect.
You may be very much the extroverted, outspoken evangelistic type. Then, one day, God says, “not here, not today, trust Me.” As the day progresses you see that God wanted to use your actions, not your words to reach someone. Or, He wanted to use someone else, not you. Or, He was already speaking to someone’s heart, drawing them to Him; and because you obeyed and waited, He brought them to the place where they were ready to hear the good news of Jesus.
Get the idea?  Yes, He did say, “as you go, make disciples.” However, evangelism is about your relationship to Him, too. It isn’t about a method or a rule.
Christianity doesn’t need defending. If we as Christians would spend our time in the pursuit of Him, knowing Him, considering Him, it would so change us that our Christianity and the God we serve would be irrefutable. Trying to defend God is like trying to defend the universe. It’s really big, and it’s there. By comparison, you’re a pretty tiny speck, and anything you do to defend it is really somewhat humorously vain.
And, God created the universe.

Yet, this magnificent Creator chooses to make Himself available to us to be known by Him and to know Him. That is not religion. That’s relationship.

God invites us to know Him, and be known by Him. That's not religion. It's relationship Click To Tweet

Shaken – with a Purpose


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Shaken – with a Purpose

He changes:

  • RIVERS into a WILDERNESS
  • SPRINGS OF WATER into a THIRSTY GROUND
  • A FRUITFUL LAND into a SALT WASTE
    Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it.

True wickedness is settling for and embracing the temporal instead of the eternal. Let me rephrase that.
True wickedness is settling for and embracing earthy, earthly, temporary things when the God who IS, and is a Rewarder, offers us the eternal, offers us Himself.

True wickedness is not – sexual perversion, divorce, abuse, pornography, violence, war, murder, rape, drug abuse, prostitution, molestation, theft, adultery, greed, gossip, envy,….
These things are wrong. They are evil. They are immoral. Not because society or culture says so. Rather, they result from wickedness. They come from the evil, shallow hearts of men and women who do not give thanks (Romans 1:21) because they do not truly believe that He IS – that He is eternal, creator, holy, magnificent, loving, kind – and a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Those evils result from true wickedness – embracing the temporal instead of the eternal.

So, the outer man, the earthly, temporal man, decays (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). The afflictions of this life are intended to show us the vanity of life under the sun (see Ecclesiates) – the temporal – so we will embrace life in the Son – the eternal. Everything we hold on to, everything we settle for, everything we embrace that is temporal eventually will be shaken so that nothing remains except that which is truly worth holding on to the – the eternal. The goal being that we can with gratitude offer an acceptable – whole-hearted, totally yielded, totally trusting, totally resting in Him and His faithfulness – service to God (Hebrews 12:26).

So we go through life and our rivers become a wilderness. Our springs dry up and become thirsty ground. Our fruitful land becomes a waste land. The soap bubbles in which we take such great delight pop into nothingness. Life under the sun just doesn’t seem to hold any meaning, any joy, any true fulfillment.

Quit holding on to things that don’t last, and fall into the Father’s arms, and be held. He truly loves you. Seek Him, and He will be found by you – He will reward your seeking. You long for meaning, for purpose, for peace, for comfort, for joy, for wealth? Don’t settle for the emptiness of soap bubbles, for the whispiness of cotton candy, for life under the sun. Embrace life by giving thanks to the Father and focusing on the Eternal. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.

Then,
He changes:

  • WILDERNESS into a POOL OF WATER
  • DRY LAND into SPRINGS OF WATER
  • And there He makes the hungry to dwell

Is your life being shaken? Are you feeling like you’re in a wilderness? How can I pray for you today?

Oh, the bliss of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. Click To Tweet

click to retweet, and send me a direct message on my Facebook page with your email or Kindle email address, or sign up for e-mail on my blog, and I’ll send you a digital copy of Jean Ellzey’s book – In Him There Is No Darkness. Jean was born blind and crippled. She was my aunt. Her autobiography is inspiring as she tells of the loneliness of a child who cannot see, who cannot run and play with others, and how she chose God as her best friend, for life.

 

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