Religion Vs. Relationships
"He [Jesus] appointed twelve … that they might be with him."1
It may surprise some to realize that God isn't into religion. He's into relationships. He's not into morality either. He's into reality. And his goal isn't to make us good for goodness sake. God's goal is to make us whole for only to the degree that we are made whole will our lifestyle, our actions, our behavior, and our relationships be whole-some.
Becoming whole begins with wholesome relationships both with God through Jesus Christ* and with other loving Christians. As someone has said, "To be is to be in relationships." We don't grow in isolation. This is one reason we need to belong to a loving, accepting, non-judgmental, and non-legalistic church and within a smaller group in relationship with likeminded Christians. We only grow and become the person God wants us to be as we are in such relationships. We're not talking about "head to head" but rather "heart to heart" relationships that are open, authentic and real.
Selwyn Hughes pointed out that "the Christian movement began in relationships." As today's Scripture stated, "He [Jesus] appointed twelve…that they might be with him." If Jesus needed to be in relationship with others, how much more do we?
God's goal for the Christian is not for him/her to do good or even to be good. It is to be in relationship with Christ and become whole. It is out of being with him and being made whole that our desire to be good and to do good will come. This will be a natural expression of who we have become. As Hughes put it, "Trying to be good without that relationship [with Christ] is like trying to get a stream without a spring, or sunlight without the sun."2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to develop a healthy, maturing, and loving relationship with you as well as being in relationship with at least one or two other loving, open, honest and real Christians, so that I will become the person you want me to be, and do what you would have me to do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Mark 3:14 (NIV).
2. Adapted from Selwyn Hughes in the daily devotional, Every Day with Jesus, November 1989.
* Note: To ensure that you are in a right relationship with God, be sure to read the article, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at: http://www.actsweb.org/christian