By: Anthony Williams (July 2010)
What’s the difference you ask? Webster’s Dictionary defines religion as “The service and worship of God or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance. A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” Webster Dictionary defines relationship as “A connection by blood or marriage; kinship; a particular type of connection existing between people related to or having dealings with each other.” While religion does create a platform and sanctuary for those whom share the same beliefs and practices; it will not connect you with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
God offers us a relationship with him as a free gift because we are his children, but many people often reject this gift because they think it means “religion.” Religion can sometimes hinder us from a relationship with God. Self praise of works such as going to church, tithing, fasting, while all good Christian acts, can blind us; allowing our achievements and pride to get in the way, ultimately cutting us off from God (Luke 18: 10-14). It’s not enough to act religious, our actions and attitudes must be sincere (Matthew 15: 8,9).
So how does one obtain this relationship with God? What does God require? In the Old Testament followers of God would sacrifice animals according to God’s law, however even then God made it clear that obedience from the heart was much more important to him. While today we may not sacrifice animals, we must sacrifice our old ways, things we used to do, sacrifice our will to align our thoughts, actions, and beliefs with those of Christ. We must act out our devotion and obedience to God (1 Sam 15:22,23.) What God expects from us is to sacrifice our lives to do his will, obey his law, love our neighbors, and encourage those who are weak in faith (Romans 12:1-3). These things will undoubtedly allow us to develop and maintain a lasting relationship with God.
There is an old Negro spiritual that my mother used to always sing around the house
“Have you got good religion? Certainly Lord…” If you read the lyrics of this song in its entirety they speak about having a redeemed spirit, a renewed feeling, and being baptized. You cannot capture these feelings without having and maintaining a relationship with Christ. I ask the question “Have you got a good relationship?” It’s just as important, is it not? God gave his only begotten son as a gift, to help us share a relationship with God.
By no means am I saying that one has no need for religion; however it does not end there. The Bible says in James 2:17-18 “faith without works is dead. One person might say, “You have faith, but I do good things. Show me your faith apart from the good things you do. I will show you my faith by the good things I do.” Don’t get so caught up in religion that you do not let the world see your actions reflect your beliefs. That’s what God wants; disciples who will walk with him in the Lord as well as spread the word.
Be committed to your Christianity and connected to your creator. I encourage everyone to pursue a “REAL RELATIONSHIP” with God and not just a religion.
Real Relationship=Eternal Life