Often times, people ask, “Are you a religious person?” My answer to that is “no.” That might surprise many readers considering I share a lot about my faith walk here on my blog. But, the reason I say “no” is because religion can be transformed into a system of works-based salvation. With all the rules we set up for ourselves, it’s easy to think following them is the way to get God’s love and approval. But the truth is you don’t have to try to use your behaviour to earn God’s love. It isn’t based on what you do or don’t do, it’s based on His Son Jesus and your decision to accept Him.
So many people get caught up in religion that they forget to have a relationship. It’s not about a checklist. It’s not about performing rituals. It’s not about formalities. It’s not only about ‘doing’ good. It’s not about working hard. It’s not about earning God’s love. All of these are based on religion. It’s not about our behaviour, it’s about His character. Religion is performance based, not grace based. It develops traditions and formulas to accomplish spiritual goals. It tries to earn God’s love and forgiveness.
You don’t have to try to use your behaviour to earn God’s love. He loves you despite your behaviour.
We often make the Bible out to be a rule book but the Bible isn’t about rules; it’s all about Jesus. It’s a supernatural love story designed to to be used in the context of walking in relationship with Jesus and it’s on those pages that he reveals who he is and how much he loves you and me. He loves each one of us more than we can possibly imagine.
Sometimes the Christian life is hard. There are no easy answers or explanations but it’s through our brokenness that draws us closer to him. He is our firm anchor and he holds us secure in life’s fiercest storms. He will help carry you!
Sometimes we need to be reminded that we need to keep on running to Jesus. We need to “Keep on keeping on”. Jesus wants to be near messy, mistake prone people like us, not have us trapped by rules and regulations and our our own human efforts. There’s love, joy, hope, freedom and redemption in His words. One of the reasons Jesus died for us is so we can be free from all bondage and religious spirits.
It is really easy to get caught up in religion. Believe me, I have struggled. I’ve had the thoughts, “If I do ABC, then XYZ will happen.” But, that isn’t how Jesus works (thank goodness). It can even be things in the church – a religious person might tithe, volunteer, and attend bible studies, but none of that matters if they don’t have a relationship with their creator. Are those things good? Yes. Are they important? Yes. But, We should never ‘do’ to get something from Him, instead we should ‘do’ because He has given us life, and anything we do for Him should be a response out of our love for Him. Just like we can’t work our way into heaven, we can’t work our way into a relationship either.
Denomination doesn’t matter either. At the end of the day, whether you are Alliance, Pentecostal, Baptist, or any other Christian denomination doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have a relationship with Jesus. Jesus created us to be in relationship with Him. There is nothing we are supposed to do to make Him love us more, including what church we attend or what denomination we are. The Bible talks about Church as a living and breathing thing, not just a meeting that takes place each week with some singing and preaching. We weren’t meant to love an event, we were meant to love people.
Whether to you being a Christian is considered a ‘relationship’ or ‘being religious’ isn’t the point in sharing on this topic. The point is that being a Christian is all about the grace and based on love. It starts when you accept Jesus as your Saviour. It moves forward when you further your relationship with Him through things like worship, prayer, and spending time in His word. We need to be actively moving towards Jesus or we risk getting swept away in the lies Satan whispers in your ears. I forget that we are sinful human beings, just as in need of grace and accountability as the rest of us.
We get distracted by the hard thing in our lives and it’s easy to get caught up in religion, that you forget what having a relationship is all about.
I’m not saying all religion is bad. Of course, it depends on how you define the word. If religion to you means marking off the checklist and doing works to gain more things, better health, more love, or more blessings then it’s bad. I, at times, have gotten caught up in it too. Even though I have gotten off track at times, I wholeheartedly desire to live in freedom from all religious spirits and have a honest and pure relationship with Jesus.
He came for messy, mistake prone people and makes us beautiful.
I love what Laura said above. I believe it’s ok to nurture all sides – science, faith, whatever! And I love your distinction between religion and faith. It makes me think for sure.
De Bolton says
Religion is one of the factors I left my faith for 13 years. being judged by the law and never taught of the love led me to feel inadequate and undeserving of Salvation. Now that I have been redeemed people assume that I am a religious person but I live my life faithfueled and not of the laws before Jesus saved us.
Love this! “So many people get caught up in religion that they forget to have a relationship” If we put religion first, we completely miss the point. If we put Christ first, then we see how we need to reach out and love others.
Laura Funk says
This. SO much this. Being a science teacher it is difficult to explain to kids that I have a relationship with Jesus and that I fully understand science and the data to back it up.
The How-to Guru says
You are exactly right, mam. Wise words about how grace and love are what matters and what we have to focus on.
the How-to Guru
Yep, there’s def. a difference. One feeds the soul, the other is just routine.
Very true. The relationship is what is most important!
Mama to 6 Blessings says
What a great post. I always so no too, I say I am not religious I have a relationship with Christ. 🙂
Tatanisha W says
I agree with you. Too many people get caught up in the name of religion and focus on all the outward things, they miss the inside! I am Christian myself, but do not associate myself with any religion. But rather have asked forgiveness of my sins, accepted Jesus, and developed a relationship with him. That’s what it’s all about. Great topic!
Liz Mays says
You make a clear and understandable distinction here. It really is quite a different thing, and what matters most is the personal relationship.
Nicole Escat says
I think we should separate religion to our faith. Most people think that being in the church or talking heavenly things mean that you are religious.