Religion vs. Relationship…such a hard topic to talk about nowadays it feels like. When the topic of religion comes up, I feel like people separate based on these two words. Why is that? I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this subject. I know personally speaking with my faith, I have experienced both sides of Christianity.
Growing up, I always heard about Christianity from a works perspective. That our goal is to get to heaven by doing good things here on earth. That we should be unselfish, honest, “holy”, and “righteous.” These are not bad traits to aspire to. But as I have grown up, I have realized that it is about the reason why we should be these things. We should be more concerned about our hearts being changed than our actions being changed. When we really understand the magnitude of the finished work of Christ, that is when our hearts are changed and therefore our actions, too.
Now, when I say that our actions don’t matter as much, I do not mean that we can just do whatever we want and pray for forgiveness. Romans 6 says, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” This means that we don’t just accept Christ and continue to live however we please. Works are involved, yes, but we need to continually rely on the grace of God to help us keep the right mindset.
When it comes to the religion aspect, I do not consider myself religious. Shocker right?? Well it is true. I am a follower of Jesus. There is a big difference between religion and relationship. Religion involves working to please a higher power. Religion includes devotion, which is so very needed, but it could become very one-sided. When we get into this mindset, we become so concerned with pleasing God that we can lose the grace and the love aspect. I understand that I am still learning and growing, but I would so much rather experience love, than to be consumed by rules and regulations.
Jesus desires relationship with us. He desires us to walk with Him and Him to walk with us. All throughout Scripture, we see how God has passionately pursued us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It is not about us working our salvation by doing good deeds. We do good deeds because Jesus died and rose again for us to be free from the captivity that comes with a lack of love and having to be perfect.
All in all, we are prized and loved by the Creator of the world. We are invited into communion and relationship with God. He doesn’t want us to just do the right things because of what we think He wants, but rather, He wants us to experience His love for us and out of that, we live. Our actions are motivated out of love, not just trying to do good things to earn favor. We already have been made whole because of what Jesus did, so we are free from the shackles of religion. Please hear my heart. I am not bashing, but I am promoting relationship with Jesus. Feel free to comment and discuss!!