• O Lord our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; But through You alone we confess Your name. [Isa 26:13 NASB]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. [Mat 11:29 NASB].

Is Christianity A Relationship Or A Religion?

Religion has a bad name in our culture; it bears the image of hypocrites. Because of this poor image many professing Christians want to distance themselves from this idea that following Christ is a religion. So, they claim God is looking for relationship, not religion. Rather than preach repentance, the modern American gospel preaches a relationship with God. This is a false gospel. We are told throughout Scripture our faith is a religion. Therefore, to make the gospel more palatable to sinners is a blasphemous effort to please man rather than God.

This idea that God is looking for a relationship implies several things:

  1. Rather than repent, we can add God to our life. He will make our life better, more fulfilling.
  2. We don’t need to worship God; or we can define how we worship God and what this looks like. If our worship is cool and exciting, He might even worship with us.
  3. God just wants to love us and He accepts us no matter what we do or how we live. We think He finds good in us. We think He finds value in us. As long as we are sincere, we are saved.
  4. Our relationship with God is centered around ourself. It is all about how we feel about God.
  5. We can be casual friends with God and the relationship is ours to groom as we see fit.

. . . you thought that I was one like yourself. . . [Psa 50:21 ESV].

The easy-believism, seeker-friendly church came up with the idea God is looking for a relationship to make faith in Christ seem easy. We are creating God in an image pleasing to us.

This is the wide gate, where professing Christian preachers try to crowd as many people as possible into the kingdom of God. Jesus warned us to beware of the wide gate and seek the narrow gate.

The Bible does NOT say we need a relationship with God. It says we HAVE a relationship with God. John the Baptist said, those who believe have eternal life; they will be with God forever. Those who disobey REMAIN under God’s wrath (Joh 3:36). Jesus said whoever believes is not condemned; whoever does not believe is condemned ALREADY (3:18). There is NO Scripture declaring God is seeking relationship. Jesus said God is looking for worshipers (Joh 4:23-24).

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. [Rom 2:6-8 ESV]

Christ also said God is a spirit, as in clarifying God is not a man (Joh 4:24). If we look at our relationship with God as we look at our relationships with man, we are bringing God down to our level. God is higher and greater than all mankind. If we follow Christ, our relationship with God is that of worshipers.

Furthermore, our worship is a lifestyle, not an event. It is not the going to church or a well displayed passion with arms in the air that God is looking for. The prophet Jeremiah warned the people of Judah having the temple of the LORD was not enough; nor was it enough to worship and rejoice in the temple while living our lives as we see fit (Jer 7:2-11). God is looking for repentant hearts and lives of obedience. He is looking for lives of worship; worship in spirit and in truth.

Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ [Jer 7:4 ESV].

As for the true nature of Christianity: The Bible is a book of religion and Christ taught religion while He walked this earth; this is continually expressed throughout the Gospel of John. The Bible tells us to put our religion into practice (Jam 1:26-27); warns us not to allow our religion to be in vain (1Ti 1:3-7); and explains what is the religion God accepts or what God expects of our religious walk (Mic 6:8). Christianity has worship (v23-24); it has sacraments: baptism (Mar 16:16) and communion (1Co 11:23-25); it has requirements of obedience (Mat 16:24). Christianity is a religion.

Jesus called us to abide in Him (15:1-6). To follow Christ with all our heart, soul and mind is religion.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [Rom 12:1-2 ESV].

Jesus told the woman at the well God is looking for worshipers. To worship is an act of religion not an act of relationship. This worship comes out in what we say and what we do; it is evidenced in how we live. True worship is religion. Those who worship God do not treat this as a mere or casual relationship.

The mantra of the modern American gospel is God wants to have a relationship with you. I have news for these people: He already does. You are either a child of God or you are His enemy and under His wrath.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. [Col 3:1-11 ESV].

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