Religion or Relationship, You Decide
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
(8) Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (9) Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. (10) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
-James 4:8 (NIV)
I got a question a while back ago about religion versus being spiritual (what I would term relationship). I have been struggling with this because the answer is about a person’s heart not a set of rituals. I was over thinking the answer at first and I think this answers the question the best.
In the Old testament in the Southern Kingdom (Judah), before they went into captivity they practiced idolatry (i.e. Not strictly worshipping God). They would perform the ritual sacrifices but their hearts were far from God. They didn’t have their hearts in it. You see the Old Testament laws and rituals were designed to show them that they can’t get to God on their own because of their sin. They pointed to Jesus, the perfect sacrifice. The people just went through the motions rather than worshipping God with their whole heart. Unfortunately, that is the way a lot of people treat church today. This is not what God desires.
We see this as a problem in the early church as well. James says for these people to draw near to God and Humble themselves before The Almighty with their whole beings. Remember that this was written to those who called themselves Christians! This was written to people who were of the “household of faith.” The problem is that their hearts were far from God. So it can be with us today.
We must not forsake going to church because God established it and He blesses us in our corporate worship; but we must be careful that we don’t turn it into an empty and lifeless routine, because then there is no purpose in it.
So, a relationship is about your heart, not your religious rules and events. These things should be designed to bring us into relationship with God. They should not be the end result of the goal, the goal should be a life-changing relationship with God.
How about you today? Has the Christian life just become some mindless set of rules for you? Or is there some life in your relationship with God? Only you know, and only you can humble yourself before a God who wants a relationship with you. The choice is yours today.
I know this was not a long one today, but it is something so simple that we (Christians) often forget about. Let me know what you think by shooting me an e-mail or leaving a comment.
Thanks and may God Bless YOU!