What makes Christianity different from other faiths and belief systems? Quite a few things, but one major difference is that Christianity is more than just a religion. What do I mean by that? Let me explain.
When you hear the word “religion”, what do you think of? Most people think of a list of do’s and don’ts. Some might think of rules, rituals, dogmas, or good works. Most likely, you’re not going to connect the word “religion” with the word “relationship.” Yet true Christian faith is not “religion.” Instead the Christian faith is first and foremost a relationship with God. Everything else should be secondary to that relationship.
Yes, Christianity has moral codes, liturgies, promotes good works, and has a belief system, all based on the Bible. But all of those flow out of the relationship we have with God. Unfortunately some churches put moral codes, liturgies, traditions, and practices ahead of the relationship, erroneously believing that the only way to God is through these acts. Our main priority in life should be building up that relationship with God through regular worship, Bible study, daily prayer, and service.
Because many of us were brought up in a “religion” we had never been told about the “relationship” aspect of our faith. Sadly many believe that good deeds or being “a good person” will get us into heaven. Wrong! You don’t earn your way to heaven through works or religious practices. The Bible is very clear about that. Of course out of that relationship with God should come better behavior, meaning you will live your life according to biblical principles.
How do we illustrate religion versus relationship for the Christian? “Relationship” is Jesus, reaching down to us with his nail-scarred hands, saying to us: “Look what I have done for you.” “Religion” is us, holding up our pitiful works, saying to Jesus: “Look what I’m doing for you.”
Which would you rather have: religion or relationship?