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18/02/2020

A religion or a relationship ? 

James 1.27: "Pure and undefiled religion, before God our Father, consists in visiting orphans and widows in their afflictions, and in preserving themselves from the defilements of the world."
Religiosity.


It can include the following activities: believing in God; attend religious services or have religious affiliations; send their children to a denominational school; to be good for others and give to the poor; Behave; to be baptized; receive communion; read and study the scriptures; pray; celebrate religious holidays; teach the Word of God; sing in a choir. One can be religious to satisfy one's ego. It is very pleasant to be reputed to be a caring and pious person, or to believe that one's behavior obtains the approval of God. It may seem preferable to be known to be good rather than incredulous, but Jesus reserved some of his strongest criticism for religious people who used their spiritual reputation to attract attention and receive honors.


Matthew 23.26: "Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the dish, so that the outside will also become clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you look like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful in outside, and inside, are full of dead bones and all kinds of impurities."


Every priest to perform his service offers the same sacrifices, which can never, however, take away sins. When we believe that religion consists of singing, praying, giving alms or even studying the Bible, we understand nothing. All these activities do not give us a relationship with God, we lose sight of Christ when we focus on our actions or our knowledge. They harm us when they make us relegate Christ to the background. Religiosity and Christ are not compatible, there is a big difference between following Christ and being religious. Religion is dangerous, because it often happens to be good enough to turn us away from the Lord. We tend to substitute our works for that of Christ.


2 Corinthians 3.6: "He also made us capable of being servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."


Believing in Christ can accomplish what no religion can do. Our faith transforms our heart and allows the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in us. This is a process that humbles us, because we have to recognize that all the efforts we make to look good are useless. We must turn to divine mercy and believe that the Holy Spirit will do what we cannot do in us. Religion is what we do in the face of the world for God, but God gave us Christ to transform us from within.


1 Timothy 2.3: "This is what is good and pleasant before God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to know the truth."
Regeneration.


Religious people saw Jesus as a dangerous and fearful person, because whoever believed in Him no longer needed the religion of the Pharisees. Jesus taught that God is not looking for people who faithfully practice their religion, but rather for those who depend on him in all areas of life. Likewise for us the revelation of who Jesus is and what He did for us must produce a change in our life and in our way of being. It is not something we add to our lives: a plus. It is a deep transformation of the heart which is revealed in our actions, our thoughts, our decisions, our words.


John 3.6: "What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit."


The personal revelation that God gives us in our hearts is Christ, our Lord and Savior. The truth of what He is will determine how we live as a follower of Christ. In our society and for many people in the Church, such authentic love is seen as horrible fanaticism. From a purely earthly perspective, carnal love will accept people as they are and will give up calling them to change their lives. From the perspective of eternal life, true love declares: "I care enough about you to impose momentary discomfort on you, in order to save you from an eternity of torment, agony and suffering absolutely indescribable".


Love and truth.
Consider this: imagine that we see a blind man heading towards a cliff, towards certain death. I could say nothing for fear that my intervention would be lazy as negative or disrespectful towards free choice, or if I don't force him to stop, he will die. From a purely earthly perspective, carnal love will accept people as they are and will give up calling them to change their lives! We must consider life in its eternal context to better understand what authentic love is. Nothing can replace a heart filled with love and righteousness that testifies to a good relationship with God.


Matthew 15.13: "He answered: Any plant that my heavenly Father had not planted will be uprooted. Leave them: they are the blind who lead the blind; if a blind leads the blind, they will both fall into a pit."


One of the biggest threats from religion is that religious people pose a danger not only to themselves, but especially to others. Addressing the very religious biblical experts of his time, Jesus was severe: "Woe unto you, teachers of the law! because you have removed the key to science; you did not enter yourselves, and you prevented those who wanted to enter. »(Luke 11.52). The Pharisees removed the key to science from ordinary people by replacing the Word of God with their own traditions and unimportant questions. In doing so, they discredited Christ.

Luke 11.33: "No one lights a lamp to put it in a hidden place or under a bushel, but they put it on the candlestick, so that those who enter see the light."


A restored relationship.
There is only one way to know God's favor, that is to submit to Christ. When God enters into relationship with man, He does so within the framework of the alliance, It is He who takes the initiative: Only the living Christ can transform hearts. Christ is not a religion, but a person who can be known and trusted. When Christ is at the center of our lives, our good works acquire all their meaning and all their reason for being. Religion cannot replace Christ, because without Christ it remains hollow and selfish. Focusing on Christ is when we focus on our Lord rather than on ourselves.


Matthew 17.8: "They looked up and saw only Jesus alone."


Christ surpasses all religion. He is everywhere, at all times. To stay close to Christ, you must pray, read, study, and praise the Bible. Prayer is our way of communicating with God. When we are close to a person, we make sure to maintain our relationship with them, whether they live right next to or on the other side of the world. It is important to communicate daily with God in order to focus on him. In the same way that we communicate with our friends, we should keep in touch with God through prayer.


Deuteronomy 4.29: "You will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him, if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul."
Run towards the goal.


The reality of our world is the opposite of spiritual life. How many Christians have become discouraged in the face of legalism, how many of them have fallen in the face of their incapacity to live a life of faith based on rites and religious traditions? It is not by our own strength that we will lead a holy life! Only the grace of Jesus is the powerful provision that leads us to holiness. For this, the Holy Spirit must face his work by working our heart in our sanctification. Paul says: "I am running towards the goal, to win the prize for the heavenly vocation of God in Jesus Christ." The word "run" is the Greek word "dioko" which has the primary meaning of: "to follow; to pursue with endurance; to seek sincerely; to wish firmly to acquire." It is clearly a holiness of behavior focused on a well-defined objective: "To be with Jesus".


Philippians 3.12: "It is not that I have already obtained all this or that I have already achieved it; but I pursue it, trying to grasp it, insofar as I myself have been grasped by Jesus Christ."


Conclusion: the Bible shows us the life of Christ and teaches us how to live with him and for him. By devoting time to reading the Word of God, we have access to the best possible learning manual. It is also important to go regularly to a Christian assembly to praise Christ there and stay in communion with brothers and sisters. Always make sure to praise and seek God with all our hearts. The Scriptures repeat to us: "Repent of your sins and turn to God", sanctification is essential to receive eternal life. We must make a choice: religion, which transforms us into "brass that resounds into a resounding cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13.1) or, on the other hand, take up one's cross to remain in intimate communion with God by abandoning a sinful course of conduct. Repentance from the relationship with Christ fills us with his light and his love, it is above all a matter of the heart. It is a profound change of mentality and personality prompted by the Holy Spirit which completely reorients us in our thoughts and our wills. In the same way, the reality which alone illustrates the power of the Gospel: it is the disciple who is under the authority of his Lord Jesus Christ.


Romans 6.5: "If we have been united to him by a death similar to his, we will also be united by a resurrection similar to his."