Religion says you must do certain things and follow legalistic practices to get right with God. Relationship says you must believe in Jesus and have a relationship with Him. From that relationship, you receive grace, forgiveness, and justification.
“Religion is a guy in church thinking about fishing. Relationship is a guy out fishing thinking about God.”
HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST
Having a relationship with Jesus means that you are surrendering your life completely to Him. Going to Church is a good thing. Having fellowship with believer’s is what we should be doing. Serving the Lord is what we are called to do whether it be in a Church or Ministry. But once again, it is a matter of the heart. Our motives need to be pure ones.
“All a person’s ways seem to pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” ~ Proverbs 16:2
Surrendering to Jesus comes first, and the transformation develops over time as your relationship deepens.
Jesus searches our hearts and analyzes our motives. He sees the REAL us, so why try to hide it? We are only fooling ourselves if we pretend to be something we are not. Having a relationship with Christ is a willingness inside of us to ask God to search us and to fix all that is broken. We have to be willing to admit that we need His help every single day and then to take the steps that He asks us to in order for Him to mend those broken areas.
The Holy-Spirit prompts us to live according to His purpose and not our own. The Spirit convicts us when we are veering off path and guides us right back to where we should be. It is all perfectly laid out by an all-knowing God whose ways are beyond our ways. He becomes our guiding light, our Father, our Redeemer. He becomes the answer to every question and problem we may have. His love for us then becomes a tangible thing rather than another task to be completed.
There is no side-stepping it, and there is no alternative. God desires our walk with Him to be authentic and sincere.
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you –unless, of course, you fail the test?” ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5
If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” ~ Galatians 6: 3-5
To test yourself means that you search your heart and ask yourself if you are being led by the flesh or the Spirit. The flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit and the two are in conflict with one another. Are you seeking God’s will, or your own will? A good way to self-examine is by asking yourself if you are exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” ~ Galatians 5: 22-26
While we will all fall short on this list from time to time you have to ask yourself if this kind of fruit is evident in your life on a consistent level. If it isn’t than you are more than likely acting in the flesh and desiring things that are contrary to what the Spirit wants. There may be some sin that needs to be confessed and repented of. Ask the Lord for wisdom in this area so that your relationship with Him can be established and grow the way that He wants it to.
By reading the scriptures the answer should be clear. God desires our hearts and wants us to have a relationship with Him. Religion will not save you, only Jesus can.