Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Religion vs. A Relationship

Meditation for the week of May 3, 2009

Galatians 1:13-14
For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

The word religion or religious is not used much in the text of the Bible.  In some versions, the above verses have “Jew’s religion” in place of Judaism.  In James we have true religion being explained.   James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”  However, In my mind and in the minds of many of my friends the idea of being religious has a very negative meaning. 

Religious Jews crucified the Lord.  They didn’t care if they were doing right.  All they wanted was to be “in charge”.  Paul continued the tradition of being “religious” by persecuting the early Christians.  Many of our early Christian communities in this country were controlling and cruel.  They used “stocks” to publicly humiliate those who violated their laws.  Down through the last 2000 years, some people who have disagreed with established religious authorities have been beheaded and in some cases burned.  Wars have been fought trying to destroy infidels in the name of religion.  Inquisitions have been used to find, convict and execute those who have been considered heretics or who held doctrines that the formal church considered divisive and wrong. 

Paul’s religious activities stopped when he met the Lord on the Damascus Road.   He no longer supported a religious system, but he trusted in the resurrected Lord.  He no longer followed man’s rules, he followed a man.  He no longer had a religion, he had a relationship. 

I have held Bible studies with some who say that when studying the world’s religions, the thing that impresses them about Christianity is it’s compassion.  Christians believe in loving their neighbors.  They believe in saving people both practically and spiritually, not in destroying people.  They are burden bearers rather than laying burdens on people that cannot be born (See Matthew 23:4). 

I know that there are those who point to the old testament wars where God showed his hatred of idolatry and where he tried to spare Israel from being exposed to it and its excesses, and they will say God is cruel.  Some will point to the Biblical teaching on eternal conscious punishment for those who reject Christ and will say that God is cruel.  I do not think they understand God or His purposes in saying that,  but if we Christians are truly saved and if we are living a life that pleases God, they shouldn’t be able to point to us Christians and say that we are cruel.  The Bible teaches that if our relationship with the Lord is right, our relationship with one another will be right.  Instead of being controlling we will preach the truth and let the Lord do the controlling through the power of the Holy Spirit. We will stand for what is right without resorting to violence.  We will keep the church holy, but we will not be cruel in the way that we do it. 

Satan is the roaring lion who goes about devouring and accusing.  The true Christian is compared to a defenseless lamb who not only would not but could not hurt someone.  If we are religious we likely are living like the roaring lion.  If we are enjoying our relationship with the Lord we will be living like the defenseless  lamb.  So the question we each need to ask ourselves is, “Do we have religion or do we have a relationship with the Lord?”

Bruce Collins

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>