Monday, May 23, 2016

Relationship over Religion

Submitted by David Miller
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.” Acts 17:22

As a Christian, I feel like the statement of Paul to the people of Athens in Acts 17 might be the one I dread hearing someone say about me the most. I don’t want to be religious. I lived religiously for many years. I was taught to live religiously. I knew all the good things that a good person should do. I would not have thought of doing some things that I knew or perhaps believed were sinful and missing a worship service, no matter what day of the week it was on, was out of the question. However, if you look at my list, it lacks the number one quality of a Christian, any mention of Jesus. I could have been called a “goody-two-shoes,” but all of those rules did not qualify me to be called a follower of Jesus Christ.
In an article written by Jason Carlson He said, “Christianity is unique among the faiths of the world because Christianity is actually not a religion! I say this because religions are human attempts to make ourselves right with God . . . Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is about God entering human history to graciously save us through His Son Jesus Christ.” (“Apologetics Bible for Students” by Holman Bible Publishers Page 1260)
If we don’t get anything else, let’s get this. Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.
Unfortunately, those of us who’ve been in church for a while tend to make it a religion from time to time. We don’t mean to. Most of us don’t even want to, but there are standards we need to hold ourselves to if we truly love Jesus. In John 14, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey me.” When we aren’t careful, our list of “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” becomes a list of do’s and don’ts, the rules of a religion.
Paul wasn’t necessarily giving the people of Athens a compliment or a criticism. They had so many statues and monuments to different gods and goddesses, Paul used their fascination with “religion” to get their attention, to show them that there was another way to God that they hadn’t considered yet. It’s a tactic Christians today probably need to use more often. I hear and see people trying to get brownie points with God all the time. They are confident that one more good deed will be enough to get them to heaven. We are so blessed to be able to share the good news that Christianity isn’t a religion. We don’t have to do good deeds to get to heaven. Salvation is a free gift. I pray that in the midst of serving Christ out of love and gratitude for the sacrifice He made on my behalf on the cross, I never allow my Christianity to become religious.   I don’t want to be just a fan; I want to be a follower.

Scripture to Claim:

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  1Corinthians 16:13

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