Whenever someone is talking to me about their qualms with religion, they always begin to describe a god that I do not recognize or serve. ‘God is vengeful’, ‘God hates..’, etc; however, I have come to realize that many people incorrectly paint a picture of God because He has been misrepresented by others. If you describe the character of God as anything other than loving, pure, and nurturing, then you may have a warped view of Him.
Religion says that there is a list of requirements and rules that must be met to be loved by God; however, Relationship speaks about the friendship and intimacy God wants with you that is not based on your works. The relationship that God wants with you is rooted in your love for Him, not being a ‘good’ person and doing ‘good’ things. Religion keeps you in chains, but a relationship with Christ sets us free.
Jesus came to the Earth because there was a separation between God and His creation. His mission was to connect humanity back to God through…(wait for it); love. Love is more than a feeling, it is a decision/action that conscientiously puts others before yourself through sacrifice. From the very beginning, God desired close intimacy with you and was willing to make the greatest sacrifice to have you. Jesus is well characterized throughout the Bible as one who constantly challenged the religious teachers of His day. He would accuse them of upholding Biblical laws to “look” righteous, but their heart was far from God. Words and actions mean nothing if your heart is not right. The Bible is clear that no human can obey all of God’s laws; therefore, it is absurd to believe that there is anything that you can do to make God love you more or less than He already does today.
In my opinion, Christianity is indeed a religion, but as believers we treat it as a relationship. We are not meant to spend our lives struggling to adhere to a list of rules but allowing our relationship with God to transform our heart and desires to become more like Him. When you connect with God in this way, the burden of life becomes much easier. The entire Bible is a love letter about God trying to connect with His creation. You have to realize that God is not mad at you, He does not hate; He only desires to be near you.
“God is not jealous. God is not angry. God is not vengeful. You’re thinking of someone else. You’re thinking of fear. Love never envies. Love is always joyful. Love always forgives. See the difference? Now you know God. Now you know love. Now you know there is no distinction between God and Love.” - Donald L. Hicks, Look into the stillness
Matthew 5:17 – ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.’
John 15:12-13, 17 – ‘This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…This is my command: Love each other.’