Religion as defined by google is a particular system of faith and worship and the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
The above definition is great and sounds amazing. However it is possible to belief in something but not allow whatever we believe in control us. It is possible to believe in someone and not have a relationship with that person. For example, I do believe that there are other religions. But I have no relationship with those beliefs. I don’t practice them, I don’t allow those belief dictate how I live my life.
Relationship is defined by google as;
- The way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.
- The state of being connected by blood or marriage.
- The way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other.
As believers we often say that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with God. Sounds a little cliché right? However it is true.
But what does this statement mean?
From the beginning of creation, God’s intention was for Him to have a good relationship with man. In Genesis chapter 3, we see that after God created Adam and Eve, He would come at the cool of the evening to come spend some time with them. He was doing this because He wanted Adam and Eve to establish a good relationship with Him. He wanted them to know Him.
To know someone is different from knowing about someone. I know about the Queen of England but I don’t know her because I don’t have a personal relationship with her. I don’t know her best colour, the food she likes, what she jokes about, what makes her happy, what makes her sad etc.
The power of relationship is in the connection. We cannot claim a relationship without experiencing a connection. We cannot claim to know God when we are not connected to Him.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, they were banished from the Garden of Eden. God used different ways to connect with man but none could provide Him with the kind of relationship He wanted to have with man. So Jesus Christ came to bridge that gap. He died to connect us with the Father. He didn’t die to create a religion.
Religious acts in Christianity are not all bad. There are biblical laws which the bible clearly tells us to follow. The Ten Commandments and the instructions embedded in the bible were not undone on the cross. However Jesus Christ came to fulfil the law. Meaning, He came to liberate us to be able to worship and connect with God as our Father. So, we obey the commandments because we love God and want to live for Him.
We want to honour Jesus with our lives. Our aim is not to keep up with religious activities (although there is nothing wrong with doing this). We don’t obey the commandments because God will strike us dead if we don’t. Neither do we obey God so we can tick the boxes on the ‘good list’. This doesn’t mean there are no consequences for our actions. However it does mean that we love God enough to allow Him lead our lives. We love Him enough to allow our lives (thoughts, words and actions) align with His will for our lives. We love Him enough to allow His word be our guide. We love Him enough to obey and honour Him.
This love is the force that makes us want to know Him more and more. It creates an insatiable thirst in our hearts for Him (Psalm 42:1).
Religion can become idolatry. It is possible to be caught up in religious activities without knowing the God we claim we serve. We are to view religion through the lens of Christ. Not the other way around.
The goal isn’t for us to be religious. The goal is for us to have a relationship with God.