I started a topic on my online community about a book series that shall remain nameless so that I can avoid going through that again. Many people got hurt by the post, including myself. I absolutely did not mean to start a controversy. I was looking for some people with whom to look forward to the next book in the series. That's it. What I got was a full-blown controversy. For this reason and others, I've given up that group for awhile. It has been a lifeline for me over our years of infertility, and I'm sure I'll be back. For now, though, I wait.
But, I know that some of the people who read my blog are not Christians, that is, have not decided that they believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and to accept Him as their Lord and Savior. So I am going to blog briefly about religion versus relationship. If you don't agree with me, I understand that. I was not a Christian until I was 26 years old, so I have many years of skepticism experience.
When I think of religion I think of rules and regulations. If you are a Christian you have to do x, y, and z. But here's the truth. To be a Christian you have to admit to God that you have made mistakes (i.e. sin), and believe in your heart that you need a savior. No one is good enough, no not one (Philippians 14:1-3, cited in the book of Romans). Not even Mother Theresa! Our standard is God, not man or woman. Jesus was both, which makes him uniquely qualified to be that savior for us.
So for me Christianity is a relationship. Jesus is real to me. No, I can't see him or touch him (who do I look like, Thomas? John 20:25), but I believe that he is real, alive, and at the right hand of God. No other religious figure is alive like that. For a long time I believed in God but could not wrap my brain around Jesus as an actual God-man who literally walked the earth performing miracles. One day it made sense to me (made clear by God's Holy Spirit) and I became a Christian.
As I become more mature in my faith, and as I learn more about God through prayer and His word the Bible, God will teach me new things. I might be convicted to give up some things I am currently doing in order to spend more time with Him. I will do that because He convicts me to out of relationship with Him, not out of law (you must do this, you must do that, etc.). All things are permissible but not all are beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:13). These things might be TV programs, other media, or even church activities.
Some people are convicted not to drink any alcohol. Personally, I enjoy a beer or a glass of wine once in awhile. The Bible is clear on drunkenness, but I know that I don't have a problem stopping with one drink. Someone else may understand that they can't have one drink, because it might lead to drunkenness. So, personally, that person chooses not to have even one drink. There might be something else that I'm convicted of and feel that God is calling me to do, that he has not yet personally called another. That doesn't make either of us a "better" Christian. It means that we are in different places with our personal relationship with God.
The good news, that is, the gospel, is that I don't have to be a perfect Christian. In fact, it's impossible. If it were possible, I would not need Jesus. So while I'm out there on a limb, I might as well give you the whole shebang. It's OK if you don't believe the Bible, many of my close friends do not. I still adore them and don't feel like I look down on them. It is a choice, and I like choices. In the previous post I have shared the gospel with you. Skip it if you like. I'm just sharing something with you that I think is pretty neat.
If all this makes me sound religious, and that's the word you would choose to describe me, then OK. I don't have a problem with the word religious as long as I can suggest the word relationship as being more accurate. If you disagree with me and want to tell me so, do. Just consider that I can't read your tone over the internet. The worst thing that could happen is that I'll cry, feel rejected, and learn some more about God because of it. Maybe that's His point.