13 June 2011

You Choose How You'll Relate to God

I recently tried again to explain the difference between being religious and having a relationship with Jesus. I try to improve this contrast because I'm often asked if I'm religious.

One of the challenges with explaining these things well, is that the questions crop up in specific contexts under particular circumstances by different people. Therefore, no one pat answer will ever suffice.

What I was able to articulate on this particular night in a lovely Mediterranean restaurant in Birkenhead was . . .

If we relate to God as a loving father, and Jesus as a terrific big brother, and the Holy Spirit as our guardian, guide and companion, then we know we are safe. With them on our side, who's gonna take us on?

Also, we don't earn the love of a loving benevolent father, nor do we have to prove anything to a terrific big brother. They love because of who they are, not because of what we do.

The Holy Spirit concept is often a hard one for people who haven't grown up with a spiritual worldview. In fact, the Holy Spirit is one of the hardest pieces of the picture to paint for people.

Anyway, moving on . . .

If we love our generous father and our terrific big brother, we live in obedience to them out of gratitude because we don't want to disappoint them. Disappointing them is loosely parallel to what the church calls sin. While we want to watch our mixtures of legal terminology and relational terminology, it is important to bring the concept of sin in to the picture or it's not complete.

When we no longer care about pleasing God out of love and gratitude, then the legal side of things kicks in. Oh, that then sounds like we're colouring nicely, but then find we must stay inside the lines.

Fact is, we get to choose the basis upon which we relate to God,
either as loving father or as consistent judge.

Another way I've often heard religion and relationship juxtaposed is that:
religion is humanity's attempt to reach God.
Jesus
is God reaching out to us, as another human being.
What do ya reckon?
Can you do better, or differently?

Have you been in these conversations where you just want to communicate the thing that matters most to you to people who are dear to you?

It's not about being right, but about including those we love in that thing that makes life meaningful, that brings hope and peace.

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