Religion Or Relationship?

I've traded religion for relationship, because you can be religious and still end up in hell.

I hate religion, but love Jesus. Religion doesn’t offer hope. It only offers rules and regulations that glorify good works. Religion is founded on a work-to-get-to-heaven system. Relationship is founded on someone (Jesus) rather than something (religion). I’ve traded religion for relationship, because you can be religious and still end up in hell.

We were created as relational beings.

Did you know that? In Genesis 2:18 God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone. So, He made Eve. We were created for community; for relationship. God is not some distant deity that we cannot personally know. God can be known. He wants to dwell with us. As Christians, we are part of God’s family. Jesus says in John 14:23, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” This idea that God wants to “dwell” with us shows God desires relationship and fellowship rather than religious works.

Religion is void of true relationship. Relationship involves caring and loving selflessly. Religion involves works or good deeds to elevate self in hopes of getting through the pearly gates. Jesus loves us and desires a relationship with us. He doesn’t desire a religious system. He was willing to lay down his life to make it possible for us to have a personal relationship with Him. Religion wants you to work for that relationship. Jesus already did the work—when He was nailed to that rugged cross. He simply wants you to trust and believe in him as your Lord and Savior!

Romans 10: 9-10 says, “9If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.” The Bible says we are saved by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8). Grace isn’t earned from good works or deeds but through a relationship. It’s given only to those who have come into a relationship with Jesus by confessing and believing.

The two thieves on the cross paint a picture of the two paths we can take. On one side, you have the thief that says, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” And the other side, the other thief says, “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” You can either choose to reject or accept Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

The thief that asked Jesus to “remember him” when He (Jesus) got to His kingdom didn’t have time to do “good works” to earn his salvation. He was a dead man on that cross next to Jesus! Entrance to the kingdom is only granted to those who have a “relationship” with Jesus. He acknowledged that Jesus had a kingdom greater than this world, trusted in Him, and believed that Jesus was who He said He was. Jesus tells him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” I believe this shows that the only thing we can bring to heaven is relationship.

I’ve given up religion for relationship, because I have found that only through a relationship with Jesus can I truly live for Him. When you are in relationship with Jesus people will be able to see that you have been with Jesus. Isn’t that what we want everyone to see? I know I do.

So what’s it going to be? Relationship or religion? It’s your choice.

– Aaron

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademark of Holman Bible Publishers.

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  • Fran


    • Aaron Joseph Hall

      As Jefferson Bethke says, “Jesus > religion.” 👍