Relationship vs Religion
Being religious is tough sometimes. It seems to require our best behavior. Thankfully our Savior doesn’t require our best behavior to have a relationship with Him. He meets us right where we are. Judah’s words point us right to truth on this topic.
“Draw near to me as I draw near to you.” James 4:8
In my one year of marriage I have learned many things… I mean many! When we were dating, I made a lot of effort to show my love and affection in both big and small ways. Then she said “for better or worse”, and “I do”. If she accepted me as is, then why do I need to do anything more?
Now believe me, I’m not subscribing to this doomed mentality, but I do understand it. In fact, my walk with Christ at times has been an example of this approach. “I’m saved… forever forgiven and accepted… I’m set for life”. Why do I need to do anything else?
It doesn’t stop there. So what does a relationship with Jesus (not just religion about Jesus) look like.
- A relationship with Jesus reflects the gospel. The message of the gospel is this: Christ (God’s son) died for our sins and rose again so that in Him we may have life (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). We are sinners, and we need a savior. Jesus is that Savior. Our sin separated us from God, but Jesus made a relationship possible by His grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
- A relationship with Jesus is personal . 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 tells us that God “put His Spirit in our hearts”. Jesus has given us His Spirit as a constant link to the Father. We are not waiting in line for our number to be called. We have direct access. Romans 8:26-27 describes the Spirit’s purpose in our lives: “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he (God) who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God”.
- A relationship with Jesus is active. This is the tough one, because it’s where our part of the relationship comes into play. Salvation is once and for all, but walking in relationship is a daily choice. In James 4:8 God says, “Draw near to me as I draw near to you”. It’s a two way street. Studying God’s word and communicating with Him through prayer do not cause Him to love us more (or less), but they do allow us to draw near to our Father. An active relationship with Jesus is not about earning salvation, or keeping it for that matter…it is freely given (Ephesians 2:8-9). Instead, it is living out God’s call to pursue Him as He pursues us.
Remember, a relationship with Christ is fully due to what HE did for us. Our part in the relationship doesn’t change who He is or what He did, but pursuing Him can affect change within us.
When is the last time you have sat down and read something in the Bible? Ask God to show you something new about Himself as you sit down and read it. That’s pursuing a relationship with Jesus.Also, enjoying His creation to the fullest and thanking Him for the opportunity is pursuing a relationship with Jesus. One without the other isn’t a great pursuit however. When will you do both this week?