Do We Follow Religion…or Jesus?
A coincidence is when amazing events occur in a way not planned or expected and without a clear cause. I am not a big believer in coincidences. Since I began following Jesus, my life has been planned, I expect amazing things to happen, and I know Who causes them.
For example, recently I have been studying about what the Bible says concerning religion. I have especially been interested in the meaning of the Greek words translated as religion and how they are used. Then something amazing happened.
As I was reading a daily post by Shane Hale 1, I came across this line: Then by developing a personal relationship with God, through Christ…I went from “religion” to “relationship”, from my head to my heart…and that changed EVERYTHING! 2
Moving from Religion to Relationship.
What does moving from religion to relationship mean? It depends on which definition of religion we use. A simple modern version is a set of beliefs, usually concerning the cause, nature and purpose of mankind, regarding God and/or the supernatural. 3
But James wrote, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. 4 The Greek word here focuses not on beliefs, but ceremonies.
What Jesus taught, and what James means here, is that ceremonies and even what we say we believe are not as important as what we do…Loving each other. Encouraging each other. Living in such a way that people will know that we love Jesus.
Following Jesus Requires a Relationship.
And how will people know we love Jesus? He was very clear about that. If you love me, you will obey what I command.5 So people will know we love Jesus because they will see us living as Jesus told us to live and doing what He told us to do.
But there is a catch. We cannot live as He told us to live…if we do not know him. He cannot lead us to love and encourage…if we do not follow Him. Ceremonies mean nothing…if we do not have that relationship which makes Him our Lord, Savior, Master and Friend.
Ceremonies may be important, but they are insignificant compared to our relationship with Jesus. Maybe we, too, need to focus less on Religion and more on Relationship. And to think I was studying about religion when I read Shane’s post. Coincidence?
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. He is also an author and speaker. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: (1) As well as writing Notes of Encouragement, Shane also writes blogs on his Facebook pages and website The1SixProject.com, offering different perspectives on our Christian walk. (2) THERE IS FAR LESS FEAR – And Far More Fascination!, by Shane Hale, Oct. 19, 2021. (3) Also see Oxford English Dictionary, Meriam-Webster Dictionary, and Dictionary.com. (4) Read James1:27. (5) Read John 14:15.
Pictures: Banner Photo: Homeless Asleep at a locked Church, Dreamstime.com. 1st Photo: Coincidence, Shutterstock.com. 2nd Photo: Church Answering the Call, David Levene, Gubbio Project. 3rd Photo: James 1:22, Heartlight.org.