Thursday, 17 May 2012
“Christianity isn’t a religion—it’s a relationship.” Would you agree with this statement? Specifically, it’s a relationship with Jesus Christ. This idea is supposed to be the characteristic that distinguishes Christianity from every other religion in the world.
But at times it still seems like a mere religion.
Hebrews 11:6 says God is “a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.” Without going into detail, the last few years of my life have been filled with tragedy and disappointment, especially the last six months. There have been times when I felt close to God, like He was the Abba Father (Rom. 8:15) and friend (John 15:15) He said He was. I was sure He was telling me what to do, and I went and did it. But everything either didn’t improve or it worsened. When I needed God most, He let me down or seemed far away.
I’ve done a lot of reading on what it means to have a relationship with God, but there are two distinct and opposite camps on the subject (and on the related topic of finding God’s will). One says that the Bible is God’s last word on all matters, that He hasn’t given any more revelation since it was written and that it’s all we need. Bible study will yield the answers we seek, and in turn we should use the brains God gave us to make a decision. The other camp is composed of the mystics: the saints who seem to commune with God in a tangible way. They seem to either hear a literal voice or a voice in their spirit. Some even speak of God “touching” them.
So, I am left confused. One camp seems to make seem impersonal, to the point it borders on deism. If the Holy Spirit indwells every believer, why are left only with a book of stories and teachings on which to base our decisions and choices? Is that not what every other religion is the world does? They all have holy books written by their gods and teachers full of rules and laws that they are told to live by. Christians, on the other hand, are supposed to have actual fellowship with their God and Teacher. Again, it’s not a religion but a relationship.
Yet the other camp seems to be made up of people who are either misguided or they have an exceptional connection with God. This leads me to believe they are either clueless dreamers who can’t think for themselves, or God is playing favorites with them (which, supposedly, He doesn’t do [Acts 10:34, Rom. 2:11]).
There’s a huge difference between reading about someone and knowing that person. For example, it’s the difference between reading every biography written about President Obama and meeting with and befriending the man himself. Why is it any different with God? The Bible is the final word on all matters and no revelation should ever contradict it, but I don’t want my faith to be limited to reading a book. I want to know God as a real, breathing Person. Is that not why Jesus came? Isn’t that why He gave Christians the Holy Spirit? To know Him intimately and not just know about Him?
Yet my faith still seems more like a religion than a relationship.
How about you? Do you think Christianity is a religion, a relationship, or both? How do you seek fellowship with God? Do you feel close to Him?