Religion: Belief in a god or gods; a system of faith or worship.
Relationship: The way two or more things are connected and work in harmony.
The New King James Version (Know the Word Study Bible) goes on to explain why religion and relationship are bound together but it got much too complicated for my aging brain so here’s my take on it.
First – I like the structure my belief system gives me; I like going to church; I like being amongst and mingling with other believers and I love to sing my heart out, hopefully not off key.
When we get hung up on that belief system (aka religion), that’s when things go south. “There is no ‘right’ denomination that renders all the others wrong.” (A bit of Joyce Meyer wisdom there.) God calls us to unity. This morning I delved into the Gospel of John in the Amplified Bible and came across something very telling. In John 17:21-23 Jesus Christ uses the words “may be one” three times and finally “may become one and perfectly united.” The way I interpret this, pray that any denomination or faith be blessed and fruitful in the good they try to do. The harvest is great, the workers are few.
Oswald Chambers in “If You will Ask” (Reflection on the Power of Prayer) wrote this:
“I wonder how many of us have been getting our ideas and convictions and notions twisted. Thank God for the confusion if it is going to drive us straight to the watchtower with God. There our doctrines and creeds are going to be God’s, not doctrines and creeds out of God’s Book twisted to suit our preconceived ideas, but the doctrines of God woven into the flesh and blood tissue of our lives by the indwelling Holy Spirit.”
Then, there is Anne Graham Lotz who explains the meeting of the Messiah with the Samaritan Woman at the well in Sychar as follows: The Samaritan woman in essence said, “Oh, well, I worship God.” And Jesus corrected her, “You Samaritans worship what you do not know.” Why was her worship invalid? She was substituting the traditions and rituals of her religion for a personal relationship with God through faith. So Jesus explained, “God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
So, although I have a strong belief system, I have a much stronger relationship with the God I believe in. (Read: My Jabbok Moment.)
As I wrote this on January 20th, after watching the 58th Presidential Inauguration of Donald J Trump as the 45th president of the United States, I have to close with a quote by Abraham Lincoln.
“With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
With Blessings and Cyber Hugs to whomever you are and wherever you are.