Rules, Religion or Relationship?

Tonight I pray for you, I pray for all of us, who get lost in the noise of this world that wants to pull us in so many directions at once.  There is only one direction we need to follow, and that is The Way, and from that we find all the truth and light we will ever need.  Please pray with me, draw me closer into a relationship with you Jesus, and let me leave everything else behind.

What governs your life?  What is most important to you, the rules, your religion, or a relationship with your savior?  This was on my mind today and I think most of the world prefers to live by a set of rules, or their religion, or worse yet the rules in their religion.  After 45 years struggling with these very issues, I can honestly say that the past 2 years I have spent focusing solely on my personal relationship with Jesus, which is the most important thing in my life.

Rules are rules, not much to explain on that one.  They are needed to establish order, and there are plenty of “rules” in the Bible, only they are referred to as commandments.  There are also rules in society which help (or at least try) to bring order to the world.  The problem some people face is that they have no foundation for their lives, no faith in anything but what they can see, and sadly all they have to fall back on are rules.  When that happens there is no room for compassion.  I think all of us can agree that while rules can be helpful, not everything is black and white and we need to find a little gray to live in some days so that compassion and love can take hold of someone’s life.

What about religion?  I will admit up front this one bothers me most, when people refer to me as a “religious” person it drives me nuts!

re·li·gion – a particular system of faith and worship

The problem I have with the word or description is that our world has perverted the term and it can mean just about anything.  I can worship my dog and call that a religion, so for me personally this one is out.  I love the way Jon Foreman put it in Switchfoot’s song “Your Religion”

What you say is your religion
How you say it’s your religion
Who you love is your religion
How you love is your religion
All your science, your religion
All your hatred, your religion
All your wars are your religion
Every breath is your religion

Your religion could be hate, lust, pride, anger, jealousy, science, but once again, similar to the rules, simply saying you live by your religion doesn’t really explain the foundation, or the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 15-16).

That leaves us with relationship, which actually has a few definitions for the word but the one I love most, and the one most fitting to this post and my life is this:

re·la·tion·ship – the state of being connected by blood or marriage

The reason for the hope I have in this world is Jesus, and it all begins and ends with him!  When I gave my life to Christ, actually let’s back up, when HE gave his life FOR me, he shed his blood and died on the cross to show me Amazing Grace, and oh how sweet that sounds!  The Bible refers to the Church as the bride of Jesus as well, so yes that definition is very fitting for what I am talking about today.  When I look at my life through the eyes of a personal relationship, everything else falls in its place.  The things of this world are not my concern, Jesus himself said this is not his Kingdom (John 18:36).  There is so much beauty in this, so much that changes a person’s life.  Jesus was not concerned about the rules as much as he was about a relationship.  Jesus came to Earth to spend time with his children, to show them the kind of love the world has never seen before, and to bear witness as a teacher to provide us with an example to follow.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself, these are the two most important things he said, and he followed up that all the other commandments (rules) are based on those two things.  But love is not a rule, love is an action, it’s a verb, it’s a LIFESTYLE!!!  Jesus was not concerned about the rules, he was interested in YOU!

I will leave you with this:

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” – John 15:15

That’s pretty awesome ain’t it?  The living God who came to Earth to save the world from sin, the same God who knew you by name before He formed the Earth, calls you his friend!  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather live my life as a friend to the King of Kings than by any religion or rule book.  The love He has for me is more important than anything else, and everything else flows from it.

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