All too often in today’s culture, folks use the word “religion” to identify what many of us know as a relationship. One with a living Person that is as real as any earthly folks we know. As dynamic, active and authentic as one we have with a person considered a ‘mentor’ or ‘coach’. A relationship that overshadows any we have with flesh and blood on earth.
Religion is defined as follows:
“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.
a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: i.e.
the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.” (Dictionary. com).
Religion involves doctrine, dogma, rules, regulations and what most would call “laws”. Yet the Person with whom I have a relationship came to abolish legalism in all its forms. For no other reason than it is not what PAPA intended for all of us.
His intent was to send His Son into the world to die to all things that separated us from Him. And in His resurrection and ascension to bring about the possibility that all can be reconnected with Him through His Son and the giving of His Spirit (Holy Spirit) in exchange.
For the most part, religion as we’ve come to know it today, is legalism. Instead of freeing us to be in relationship with the Son, it ties us to someone’s interpretation of Scripture – whether it’s the true meaning of the word(s) or not.
One example is baptism. Some say it’s not real unless it’s via immersion. Others adhere to sprinkling. Some believe in infant baptism while many believe baptism should only accompany a true conversion experience which can only come following the age of reason (thought to be about age 7 or 8).
I grew up in the old Methodist tradition. I say “old” because Methodism in my youth was far more evangelical than it is today. But the same is true of most Protestant denominations now. Each year, we were expected to sign the “I won’t let filthy liquor touch my lips” pledge card – outgrowth of the WCTU movement against alcohol in any form. I signed it “religiously” and did not enjoy the fruits of the vine until my late 20’s early 30’s.
We had a beautiful older woman in the congregation with whom I used to have friendly disagreements about whether Jesus drank wine or not. She insisted he did not. I noted that since there was no refrigeration in His day; the wine he drank was obviously fermented and had some alcohol content. She never agreed and went to her grave insisting Jesus never let liquor pass His lips. This was religion in the Methodist tradition at its finest.
Wars have been fought over religion. We have one going on now. Not just a clash of religious beliefs but culture as a whole. Religion sets whole nations of people against each other. It not only kills the Spirit of men and women seeking more than a set of doctrine and dogma; but kills those who refuse to adhere to a particular set of beliefs.
Beliefs which have little to nothing to do with the real reason and purpose Jesus, the Lord died for us!
PAPA God is all about relationship. First with Him; then with His Son – then with each other. He made us to be in relationship with Him. To do so, Jesus had to die a cruel inhumane death; spend 3 days in the tomb and rise again that we too might rise to new life with Him in us.
My dear friends, it isn’t about religion. It’s about a relationship. A relationship with a Person – living, vibrant, dynamic, loyal and eternally alive in us. Yes we must accept Him and let the relationship take root, blossom and grow. While certain ‘religious’ practices can be helpful in doing so; they are not the answer to spiritual growth and development.
The answer is the relationship. The answer is our willingness to let Jesus, His life and Spirit come to life in us. Let Him be the author, mentor, coach, CEO for us so it’s more of Him and less of me. Yes, it’s via the Holy Spirit that relationship thrives; but the Person of Jesus is in the midst of same.
Here’s what I learned in the 34+ years of a thriving personal relationship with the Lord:
1. We need a framework for early Christian life. And that framework is found in religious communities, i.e. denominations, etc. where we get the basics.
2. Much as the gantry provides the framework which holds a rocket waiting for take off – church life is the gantry which keeps us in place until we are ready to ‘take off’ in a personal relationship with the Lord. At that point, He becomes the framework for our continuing growth and development – spiritual, personal and professional.
3. To my surprise, many things I learned in church as the “Gospel truth” were not the Gospel at all. They were man’s interpretation of same. PAPA had to erase old tapes and record the truth so I could see things from His perspective – not man’s. It can be harrowing at times because we can become so steeped in religious practices that to accept contrary notions seems like ‘heresy’.
4. The freedom experienced in a deepening personal relationship with the Person of the Son brings the Word and all that is to a newness we can’t even imagine until it arrives.
I don’t know where you are in your spiritual life. But I do know that if it’s religion and religious practices to which you cling – you might want to let go and let PAPA draw you into the most important relationship of a lifetime. In fact – of an eternal lifetime.
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://affiliatedwomeninternational.com//wp-content/uploads/2015/05/linda-google-NB-profile-pic.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]I have a ‘fiery’ passion to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]