Sunday, August 9, 2009

Religion or Relationship?

Regardless of our age, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ presents some hurdles for us that often trip us up. Recently, I was engaging in a conversation about evangelism, with a young man from our youth group, whom I will call Jeff. He proceeded to tell me a story about a conversation he had with a friend about his faith. His friends response was that he didn’t have a religion yet, and was still looking for what religion he was going to be apart of. For young people like Jeff, I believe the hurdles present in sharing their faith are even more daunting than they are to us as adults and his friend’s response is becoming an all too common answer.

The answer Jeff’s friend gave him is a microcosm of what our country is facing. Recent statistics from 2008 indicate that 92% of Americans consider themselves religious and believe in God, while 76% call themselves Christian. The number of Christians has declined over 10% since 1990 while the number of people who claim no religion at all has climbed to 15%.

There are a couple of things that stand out to me. One is if 92% believe in God and 76% are calling themselves Christians, then why is our country in the shape it is in? Two, what God are we serving? My guess is that some of them aren’t serving the God that created all of this!

It leads me back to Jeff’s conversation with his friend. Jeff’s friend was searching for the same thing that we were seeking before we became believers, but he is getting derailed by a worldly point of view. As a Christian and a follower of Jesus, I don’t have a religion. I have a faith and relationship with Jesus Christ and there is a big difference. Jesus didn’t come to earth, suffer the things he suffered, and die on a cross so that you and I could have a religion! He came so that we could be in relationship with Him. He came to bridge the gap created by our sin, so that we could be in relationship with God! I believe God looks down at America and says “these people just don’t get it”. We are really not that much different than the Israelites when they made their golden calf. We take the parts of the Bible we like, the ones we can live with, and then we make our own little mini religion and mini god out of it. We go to church when it’s convenient and live pretty good moral lives, so we call ourselves “Religious” and “Christian”. That is not what Jesus died for.

There are people that are very religious about their sports teams and never miss a game or a score. There are people who religiously arrange their schedules around their favorite TV programs. The list of things we are religious about can go on and on. If we reduce our faith down to a religious exercise of going to church and living life a certain way then the label of Christian doesn’t mean much. We are to be servants, so everyday of our life, including Sunday, shouldn’t be about what God can give us. It should be about serving and giving back to God. It should be about a relationship with Jesus Christ. We were made to serve and Jesus served us by dying on a cross.

There are millions of people in this world that are searching for God. Unfortunately, Satan does his little game of trickery and takes the good things of the Bible and twists them around. He tells us, just like he told Eve, “Did God really say” and “you will not surely die”. He is telling us the same lies! Satan plants the seeds of doubt and discontent in our heads. We tell ourselves that surely God didn’t mean it the way it is written. I mean he loves me, and if he loves me then he would want me to be happy right? Justification…it is what we do so well and it is Satans master ruse. He is deceiving the world. The world has found religion and lost it’s faith in the process.

Jesus said in John 15:4-6, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

There is a world full of people seeking to find something that makes sense to them. They are people that you and I come into contact with on a daily basis in our jobs, our families and our social and leisure activities. We need to introduce them to Jesus and help them to have a relationship with the only person that can make sense of a chaotic world. We need to remain in Him and produce fruit in our lives.

In Christ,


John 14:6

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