God Desires Relationship Over Religion
I looked up the word “religion” in the dictionary and found two definitions:
- The belief in and worship of a super human controlling power, especially a personal God or gods, a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes extreme importance. I like this definition because I believe it describes religion in its purest form.
But there’s another definition we tend to lean toward:
- A particular system of faith and worship. This happens when we decide we know what it takes to get to God. We set up what we think should happen with God and when it should happen.
This was a very difficult concept for me because of what I experienced growing up – what I believe many people experience: the wrong perception of religion. For many people, religion has become “Man’s way to God.” But when religion becomes a method to earn God’s grace, we realize we will never be good enough to do it.
Throughout the Bible, though, we see that God values relationships over our version of religion. In Genesis chapter 2, God says, “It is not good that man is alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Right off the bat, God wants us to be together in relationship. That’s the direct opposite of Satan’s goal. He wants to keep us from fellowshipping with others, especially with God. Satan wants us alone to remind us that we are bad and can’t do enough to earn God’s love. Sometimes, religion can bring isolation. We see Jesus battling religion in Luke 15: “The tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”
God doesn’t just value elite, religious people like the Pharisees, who seem to have it all together. God meets you where you are. He meets you even at the worst times of your life, when you feel like there’s no going back. I’m very thankful for that, because that’s how I really encountered God. He met me when I was at a not-so-great time of my life. That’s what God truly wants, though – a relationship with us. We can’t earn His love or grace, but He gives it freely to us when we accept Him as our Savior. And God wants us to share that love with others.
Jesus could have done life alone, but instead, He modeled a life of fellowship with other people. In Matthew 4, Jesus sees two brothers, Simon and Andrew. “They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” Jesus recognized the importance of being together with God and with other people. It’s crucial to our walk as Christians to remember this.
God values mercy over sacrifice. I’m thankful he was, and still is, merciful to me.
God values love above law. Why? God is love, and love never fails. God sending Jesus to save us is the greatest love story of all time.
In the same way, God values relationship – His way to us – over religion – man’s way to Him.
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