Looking at Life Thru God’s Glasses: Rules or Relationships – Part 16

Looking at Life Thru God's Glasses: Rules or Relationships – Part 16


When you look at religion, what do you see? Looking through human glasses, we see rules. Looking through God’s glasses, we see relationships.

It’s always been easy to confuse religion with rules. If you keep a certain set of rules, then you’re a religious person. And the rules seem to change in different settings.

Sometimes I hear someone talking about another person’s faith and they say, “He is a good person, he doesn’t do anything wrong. I think he’ll have enough good points to get into heaven.” While that may be a popular thought, it’s incorrect.

Jesus quoted Isaiah, saying, “these people say they honor me, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is worthless for they teach man-made laws instead of those from God.” (v.13)

The NCAA is an example of having too many rules. Recently, a college self-reported an extra benefits violation to the NCAA when one of its golfers washed her car on campus using water from a university garden hose. I know a coach who got in trouble because he took a player’s wife to get a prescription for their baby. Schools can provide athletes with butter, peanut butter, and jelly to put on their bagels – but adding cream cheese is a minor NCAA violation. You just can’t keep all the rules.

The Christian faith is about a relationship, not rules. The Bible makes it clear that we are never saved because of keeping a lot of rules. Paul said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works so that no man can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)

Paul gives his personal witness in Philippians 3 about how he kept every rule and even exceeded the Pharisees in keeping the rules. But he confessed that he counted all of that as loss concerning his relationship with God. He said, “I count all things to be loss and give the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, My Lord.” (Philippians 3:8)

Rules tend to be based on a transaction. If we do certain things, then God will do certain things, and vice versa – it’s about the rules. A relationship with Jesus is not based on a transaction, but a transformation. We are transformed into a new person. (II Corinthians 5:17)

Transformation gives us a relationship with God that is personal. Jesus said, “If you know Me, then you know my Father.” (John 14:7) A songwriter says, “He walks with me, He talks with me, He tells me I am His own.”

A Zoom call might allow us to talk with people in other locations – God desires to speak to and listen to us wherever we are, whenever we call His name. A cell phone is a handy tool, but it doesn’t hug you when you are hurting. An email account can provide information, but it is not a powerful presence with you in the hospital. Only God can create that relationship.

Religion isn’t keeping a set of rules – it’s entering a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

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