Thursday, August 28, 2014

Religion vs. Relationship Part 2

Continuing from an earlier post, I’d like to provide some additional insight into the “Religion vs. Relationship” aspect of faith. In my earlier post I focused on Christianity and how it is more relationship than religion. We see this aspect of a relationship with God through Jesus in many places in the New Testament. However, the concept of a relationship with God did not originate with Christianity.

We see it in biblical Judaism out of which Christianity came. In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) we also see a relationship between the nation of Israel and God as illustrated by the following two verses.

Deuteronomy 9:29
“For they are the people of your very own possession, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm.” NRSV

Ezekiel 36:28
“Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” NRSV

So the relationship between God and the people he chose for his own (the nation of Israel) is clearly evident. God gave the Israelites rules, practices, and observances as reminders of that relationship. The religious practices served other functions as well:
-reminders of God’s deliverance of his people,
-acts of worship, and
-ways of atoning for their sins.

Of course Christianity has its own observances such as Holy Communion, Baptism, and corporate worship. But in Christianity the emphasis is on salvation by grace through faith, and the individual’s relationship with God. Religious practices and observances are secondary, being outward signs of inward convictions as well as means of grace.

If you have the right relationship with God, then at least two things should happen. First, you will become a transformed person, wanting to be in God’s will. Second, your relationships with other people will be significantly better.

I hope this has helped you to understand how relationship is the heart of Christianity.

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