RE: Discussion started by Josh Allen:
I saw this on another site. I think it says all that need be said.
RELIGION: A man in church thinking about fishing.
RELATIONSHIP: A man fishing, thinking about God.
Not trying to start a discussion that slams Josh Allen, or anyone who holds similar views, up against a wall. The discussion he started has been closed for replies. But there is a big difference between religion and relationship. Not everyone who says, "Lord, LORD!" shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:20-21). Therefore, there are many people who are in church every Sunday, who are just as far away from God as the devil himself. I don't have any idea who fits that description, and who doesn't, and it's not my responsibility to find out. I'll conduct myself with others who say they are a Christian, as if they ARE in a relationship with God, the way He says people should be, and let God do the necessary heart work.
I'm always a bit annoyed (my problem) when people condemn "religion" and think they are referring to my relationship to God. Religion, or any other field of study, is a poor substitute for God Himself.
I haven't seen the fishing definitions. Here's what I have heard:
Religion: man's search for the divine.
Christianity: God's search for man.
Religion, could be a start for change for some?
Christianity is not something that has been tried and found wanting, but rather has been found difficult and left untried.
Possibly because I got a goodly dose of the Baltimore Catechism back in the day, I try to follow the model of the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14.
I love the telling of the man who mas behind the Pharisee. "O God be merciful to me a sinner". It is said that what makes a Saint is that he just knows how much of a sinner he is. the glass of their person is pointed toward Christ so they see all the imperfections.
I think religion is an inevitable emergence in the effort to have a relationship with God, not the least of reasons being that the idea of God is fleshed out overwhelmingly by religious beliefs, teachings, culture, etc. in the first place.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that modern Christians wouldn't even have the idea of a "relationship with God" without the massive backdrop of religion and a history that demands a response of each generation of believers. The two are a package deal, they feed each other.
To me, the false dichotomy people claim exists between religion and true discipleship is a feeble attempt to legitimize their own neglect of God's holy law.
First, yes God desires a relationship with man. The kind of relationship God desires vastly different than the sappy sit on a boat and say "I love you God" a dozen times kind of relationship. He desires, and has established a covenant relationship with man. A relationship with rules, boundaries, and very distinct commandments. In John 14:15 Christ says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments". One of those commandments is active church participation. Another is the obedient practice of the sacraments. Yet another is behaving worthy of the gospel by which we were called. I could go further, but I will refrain.
Boiled down, there is no dichotomy between religion and relationship. If you have abandoned the Church but still claim Christ, you have neither. The Church is Christ's bride and he has bought her with his life. He demands us to participate in that covenant relationship.
Thanks, Stephen! I appreciate your comments!
I'm sure that you're aware that people can be religious without having the relationship with God, that He says we must have (John 3:3). Those of us who ARE born both of water and of The Spirit, perhaps have dropped the proverbial ball, in teaching and proclaiming to those outside the Church, and without the required relationship, that merely attending a church function, putting a few dollars into the offering plate, and/or serving on a committee are not enough (Matthew 22:1-13; John 10:1-10; John 14:6)
But there's another challenge: many people who DO have the relationship are too focused on the religion aspect. None of us has a perfect and complete grasp, of course, but some who are weaker in the faith have a flawed understanding of God's exceedingly abundant love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. They strive to prove themselves worthy of God's gifts, and not a goober upon whom those gifts would be wasted. One who loves another, simply because of who they are (I love my wife, simply because of who she is) soon tires of the other's constant efforts to show themselves worthy. One who is constantly DOING to show worthiness has their priorities out of balance. Having a relationship means one simply enjoys the other; both are blessed simply by being together. Anything done involves both, simultaneously. Joy is doubled; sorrow and pain are diminished.
I agree that there are many who are "religious" but unbelievers. That's both sad and tragic.
Now as to those who are his, obedience to God's law isn't in order to earn his love or prove oneself worthy, but duty is also a part of the Christian walk. He is our Lord and that Lordship must be acknowledged. I think believers must be dealt with on their level. Of course fresh believers aren't going to have as much of a grasp as more mature believers.
My point is, if someone claims Christ, but refuses to participate in the ordinary means of grace (word, preaching, sacraments) doesn't show fruit of true faith. I think sometimes folks get this idea that you can have an active relationship with Christ apart from the Church, and that's simply not true. He requires both love and joyful obedience.
I agree completely!
My thinking is that when one seeks first the kingdom of God, and HIS righteousness, the evidence that one has the relationship, will naturally appear. We won't have to obsess and worry. One will naturally want to participate in corporate worship. Good works will flow lovingly because of gratitude, not grudgingly out of sense of duty.
I agree with you as well.
I think when we are seeking union with Christ as our ultimate goal, he works through his means to sanctify us and give us a greater sense of what he requires with us. For example, I have many more convictions now than I had when I first came to Christ.
One note, I wouldn't say our obedience is never done with a sense of duty. Yes, overall it should be done out of love and with a cheerful spirit. But alas, this wicked man within me often strives to convince me that God's law is dull, boring, and useless. So, I must admit, sometimes my family worship, Church worship, tithing etc are done a little begrudgingly and not necessarily with the cheerful spirit they deserve. But, just because I don't want to do those things doesn't mean they aren't required of me. So in moments when my love for him isn't in full force I must revert to my sense of duty to my Lord's commands.