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Christianity- Religion or Relationship?

James 1:26 If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

There’s this cliché, I’m sure you probably have heard it, “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship”.  No, and yes.  Christianity is a religion, AND it’s a relationship.  It’s a religion built upon a relationship.

I think the word religion has gotten a bad rap over the last decade or so, at least.  Religion is not all bad.  According to an online dictionary, religion can be defined as:

  • 1) a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
  • 2) a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects;
  • 3) the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices
  • 4)to acquire a deep conviction of the validity of religious beliefs and practices.

So if we just go off these definitions, Christianity can be defined, in part, as a religion.  What matters is what kind of religion you have.  There’s a religion that keeps you in chains, in your own effort striving to win and earn your way to your god, or there’s the Christ changing-Jesus atoning, sacrificial religion that covers the sinner by God’s grace.  We all know there are a smorgasbord of religions around the world and many claim to know God.  But who’s god is above all others?  Well, the one who always was, and always will be; didn’t have a beginning nor an end.

Religion has been used more or less as something you just “do”, do it well and consistently.  “I eat at that place religiously.”  “He goes to bed religiously at 10pm”.  “I workout religiously”.  People speak of things they are committed to doing as “religious” or adverb “religiously”.  So why is it bad if Christians are “religiously” seeking God?  We were created for it.  God commands his people to seek after Him, pursue Him, love Him, read His word, obey His word, love others, forgive, honor parents, and on and on.  Are we all just religious legalists who seek after God?  Why is it that someone who seeks to purify their lives by creating boundaries that are arrived from the bible casted into this “holier than thou” category.  I think it’s discouraging and show insecurities in people. Not all Christians who seek to live holy, honorable lives are legalists, and the opposite can be true too.  Rather than downplay their efforts, why not encourage & exhort the Christian brother/sister rather than try to tear them down because you feel threatened or insecure about your ability to measure up.  Unless it is blatantly clear they are not, we cannot know for certain but honor the confession of someone’s faith, and give thanks for their good works, for this is what God has created for us to do.  Eph2:10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.”   This is not license to boast in your owns strength, but in God’s all sufficient supply.

“Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his speech and is a fool.

Cussing and ranting as a means to ‘fit in’ with the world is not honorable.  Nor is it really cool.  It really shows a lack of security in God’s name and his honor.  It more or less shows too much need for the comfort of the world, which is inevitably not trusting in the goodness of God, but taking advantage of his grace.  It shows self-centeredness, a neediness for self-affirmation that is not humble in any manner.  Keeping in with the trends of the world just to make yourself feel better does not make you cooler and popular for God’s glory, but does make you a foul mouth who seeks after the praise of man.  That’s not what a Christian is “set apart” for.  Those who make friends with the world cannot be for God.   James 4:4 Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God?   So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy. 4:5 Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says,  “The spirit that God  caused  to live within us has an envious yearning”? 4:6 But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. 4:9 And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.  

For a Christian who is devoted to honoring Christ as light in the world, we are to be mindful of our actions so that the name of Christ is not defamed, being not conceited or boasting of how well we can outdo others in witty comebacks.  Humble yourself ye saints of the Lord.  God opposes the proud.  (James 4:6, referencing Proverbs 3:34)

3:1 But understand this, that in the last days difficult 1  times will come. 3:2 For people 2  will be lovers of themselves, 3  lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3:3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, 3:4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God. 3:5 They will maintain the outward appearance 4  of religion but will have repudiated its power. So avoid people like these.

I do not seek to bash here, but seek God’s glory in His name.  I am offended that his name is smeared by careless Christians who think that what they do & say is not an issue because God’s grace is abundant.  Yes my friend, but do not scorn his grace by abounding in what you know to be right in the eyes of God.  He sees all.   Search God’s heart as you seek to search your own in living for His glory.  Live your religion in a real relationship with the only mediator between God and men- the man Christ Jesus.

Call to Stand Firm

2Thess 2:13 But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters  loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning  for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 2:14 He called you to this salvation  through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.2:15 Therefore, brothers and sisters,  stand firm and hold on to the traditions that we taught you, whether by speech or by letter.  2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, 2:17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you  in every good thing you do or say.

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