Religion vs. Relationship

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you. ~John 15:15

There are two primary ways in which people err when approaching God. One is that they forget that Jesus is our King and our judge so that their religion has no meat. The opposite is that they forget that while it is true that God is holy and will stand in judgment over all, what He expects is not simply for us to follow a set of rules but to come into a deep personal relationship with Him through Jesus. God has called us, we who are broken and unclean; we who push Him away and seek only our own interests; we who don't deserve it; it is us that He calls friends.

Jesus here goes on to point out that it is not we who chose Him, but He that chose and appointed us that we would go and bear good fruit (John 15:16). It is not through any work of our own that we can be called children of God, but through His grace alone, and it is through being chosen that we then begin to be fruitful in our works. Good works are not the path to salvation earned, but the evidence of salvation received.

It is natural for us to think of the world in terms of working for our own rewards. All other religions of the world attempt to implement some form of working their way to God. Only Christianity declares that it is not about religion but relationship. You cannot work your way to God. God did not create us in His image in order to be simple slaves, but to grow to be His friends and His children in true and intimate relationship with Him.

In book of Luke, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees of their religion. He says “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). Be extremely wary of any religion or denomination that is not based entirely on a deep, personal, intimate, and interactive relationship with God. Do not be tempted by the lie that through your own outward actions you can please God enough to gain favor with Him. Instead, embrace the truth that you have been given a priceless gift of friendship with your creator. All you have to do is fully accept this gift, surrender your heart to Him, and then it is He who will begin to do good works through you.

And because you are children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. ~Galatians 4:6

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