Relationship vs Religion
A loving relationship is the sacrificial giving of one to another. The believers in Jesus Christ live their lives in response to the love God has already given them, not out of obligation or guilt, but gratitude and thankfulness.
On the other hand, religion is a persons attempt to earn God’s favor in order to receive something not yet given, through rituals, ceremonies and good deeds. Religion is cold like an employee striving to impress a boss for gain or promoted.
Luke 12:6-7; What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows
God already knows you intimately, down to the number of hairs on your head. He created you in his image. That image has nothing to do with your body, or physical appearance, it has to do with the spirit. How do I know that? Because God has no physical body.
John 1:18; No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God
Colossians 1:15; Christ is the visible image of the invisible God
Your spirit is eternal and and will continue on when your body dies. God is interested in your eternal life, he wants every soul he created to spend eternity with him. But he also gave us a free will to choose him or reject him, and it pains him as any father, when his children reject him.
John 6:40; For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.
2 Peter 3:9; The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
Ezekiel 18:23; Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live
1 Timothy 2:3-5; “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.”
God has no favorites, he loves each of us fully and unconditionally. We can’t accept his love and neglect his justice. People he loves will die, but that is not his desire. God will not force himself on anyone because forced love is no love at all.
Acts 10:34-36; “Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”
Your heavenly Father will take you just the way you are. None of us are good enough on our own. No one can impress God with doing good and no one will earn their way into his presence. All he asks for is faith in his Son Jesus Christ. He is our only avenue to God the Father.
Romans 5:8-11; “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”
The Fathers love send Jesus to suffer shame and die in your place. That is the great and overwhelming love of our Lord and Savior.
You Can Know Him
There is a world of difference between knowing about someone and knowing someone. Knowing about God is religion, knowing God is a relationship. When we are in relationship with God, we respond out of the love he has already shown us. Religion however is an effort to earn something you do not yet possess.
James 4:8; Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
1 Peter 5:7; Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
Jeremiah 29:11; For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 33:3; Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
John 17:22-23; The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
1 John 5:20; “And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God.And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.”
- (The word translated “know” is the Greek word ginosko , to know, through personal (first hand) knowledge, (not head knowledge) but experiential knowledge. The same word is used when Mary is questioning the Angel who told her she is going to have a baby. Her response was confusion as she had not “known” (ginosko) a man, intimately)
As we read scripture and how God related to those who came before us, we see that God is a loving and personal God. He is involved in our lives and is attentive to us, wanting us to be one with him as he shares his wisdom with us. And as with any loving relationship, rejection is painful.
Gives Us His Holy Spirit
Ephesians 1:14; The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22; It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us
It does not get more intimate than God’s own Spirit coming to live in us when we believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ.
Rejection Hurts God
If God was indifferent it would not be possible to hurt, or grieve him but we can. All through scripture God laments about the waywardness of his children. He longs to lavish us with his love but we keep turning from him.
Ezekiel 6:9; “Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me. They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols.”
Loving But Just
Our rejection of God’s love comes at a cost, and that cost is our eternal life. In the following scripture we read the pain in God’s heart for those who have turned from him.
Ezekiel 18:30-32; Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!
Jesus Shows Us the Father
No one has seen the Father Jesus tells us, but we see the Father when we see him. Jesus is the exact representation of the Father, so if we want to know what God the Father is like, we need only to look at Jesus.
John 14:6-9;Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, … Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!
The loving compassion that we see in Jesus, is the same in the Father. Jesus healed the sick, fed the poor and set free those who were in bondage. He cared for every aspect of human life and suffering and teaches that the Father is the same way.
Just the fact that God came to earth, lived and suffered with us tells us of his extraordinary love he has for us. His love is unending and his grace is sufficient for us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. He is our defender, our protector, our encourager and our strength.
Romans 8:31-39;… If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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