Religion VS Relationship

I’m unsure if it’s just me, but lately I’ve seen the subject of “Religion” VS a concept of the pure “Relationship with Christ” debate.

Given that this has been a source of much interest for me lately I was happy to see this post appear today from churchleaders.com.

Shortly after seeing the post I shared a link to it with Facebook friends.  To my delight there was an opposing view to my personal take on the subject which I’d like to touch on today to get your input on.

First I would highly encourage you to check out Dictionary.com’s definitions of RELIGION and RELIGIOUS.  Keep those in mind as you read on.

It’s difficult to tell if people are referring to different denominations when the subject of religion is brought about or whether it’s slander against religion as a whole. It has become too normal to bash religion when, in fact, religion is sort of like a map that guides us to believe what we believe as we progress deeper into our respective faith groups. Denominationally speaking, yes some are focused on good versus bad, karma, multiple gods, etc., but without religion as a whole there is no guidance. One can’t simply say “Well I think this is what Jesus would do” if they have no reference of what He did. That, in turn, is where religion comes in. The religion of Jesus Christ and His teachings, in the Christian Church body, is our guidance for that. If anything I would have to argue that there is a “rule book” we do religiously follow…The Bible

I’ll be the first person to tell you I had no idea what God’s view on certain things in my life were, sin wise. I had no idea that some of the things I was doing that were so casual were actually sins in His eyes. There’s no way I would have found this out without going to some sort of organized religious worship center or doing research through the scripture. I think all of us have experienced that when we’ve come upon something and said “Wait…that’s a sin?!”  Believe it or not, we’ve all got a lot of learning to do on God’s word regardless of what level we may be at, new and seasoned believers alike.  If it comes to the point that you’re no longer growing then you may want to take an inward look on why that is. 

All that being said, I feel people are taking the term “Religion“, or even “Religious” far out of context and failing to see that following Christ, or any other deity for that matter in other applicable circumstances, is a religion in itself. I would, by both referencing the aforementioned definition of “religion” and “religious”, and through personal studies and exploration, go as far as to say without religion we would have had no foundation for what was soon to be our relationship with Christ after discovering it for the first time and that those are easily interchangeable meaning that one inevitably leads to the other.

I appreciated the challenge from my friend to make me to go deeper as it was a good way today to get me even more fired up for how thankful I am that Christ gave us this ability to love Him, His Church, AND His religious teachings.
Thanks Jesus!
300px-Buddy_christ

Finish Friday Strong

Earlier this week I had posted about the young man who I ran across in the Emergency Room at the hospital I’m currently working on a project in.  I touched on the fact that he was so happy, despite his current situation of being burned all over his body, which truly amazed me.  Though what he was dealing with was not my main point on that post I want to re-visit that situation and touch on some points to ponder.

This morning as I prayed while driving to work I couldn’t help but selfishly ask God “Please make this day go by quick…” repeatedly.

Don’t worry, eyes were open and hands on the wheel.  Not so sure how “I was praying” would fly with the driver I ran into, or the police that come to the site for that matter.  “Sorry Officer…I was going before the Lord in prayer…have you been saved?”  Not the best way to witness.

I’m sitting here asking myself “Why was it I was asking for a speedy day specifically?  I enjoy what I do.  The drive may be long but it’s peaceful and I get to listen to some audio books.  In addition I really can’t say that I’m currently in a rut”.  I again was only thinking of my current situation of wanting to start the weekend with my fiance’ and get started on this semester’s school work as quickly as possible.

In hindsight, I wish we had a “Prayer delete” button.  I could be mistaken but I’m pretty sure scripture doesn’t touch on that.

I was again reminded of that young man I passed by the other day.  I thought “Thank you God for not giving me that fight.”

Many of us deal with our different struggles.  Some alcohol or drugs, some financial, some sexual, some the irresistible urge to eat Joe’s cupcake out of the communal fridge in the break room (That lumps theft, gluttony, and who knows what else into one), and many other things this world thrusts in front of us without our willingness to accept, no matter how big or small.  However, take heart in the fact that whatever you’ve been given by God is given to you specifically and can be handled and overcome ONLY by you (and in the stealing of Joe’s cupcake situation a little help from your local gym or trainer).

I thank God that I didn’t have to deal with a lot of struggles that could possibly happen to me.  At the same time, however, I am thankful that God has given me my own hurdles to overcome.  That’s right, I am thankful for them.

I may not be convincing you guys lately that I’m not crazy due to some of the stuff I went through, but to back up what I mean by that I’m reminded of the book of James.  Reading through it I didn’t quite grasp at first what he said to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” in James 1:2

It took me a while to take from the scripture that we are being told that the simple fact we have the ability to face our own struggles and then turn it around and use it as our witness and testimony to glorify God.  Your biggest struggle might only be that you said “Fiddlesticks” (or another choice of “colorful” words) last week in the foyer of the Church when you found out they were out of coffee.  If that’s your struggle I want to shake your hand and get some pointers on how to up my game.

What does this have to do with finishing strong on this Friday after, for some of us, a long work week (and some may not end until tomorrow, so just “re read” tomorrow if you would be so kind to do so)?  Be encouraged that whatever you have been given is just as much as you can handle and in due time will be used as a story for witness and testimony.  Take a look at whatever situation your dealing with from an outside point of view.

Go into the weekend with wisdom from your current situation and tell yourself “I’m bringing my own coffee and cupcakes next week”.

Image

Love you guys