Religion has built in deterrents, then because of the deterrents our avoidance alarm goes off! Because religion is typically focused on behavior we seldom get to the relationship part. We talk about it but usually the emphasis is think right, do right and be right or you can’t earn the relationship part. The other motivational tactic in religion is stressing the fear of God! For too many this promotes the angry, critical, judgmental God that you have to look out for! Then we are told that we must love this God, but human nature tells us strongly to run from this God! Is it any wonder why the world around the religious wants to avoid getting involved? Something else I’d like to mention is performance; all the ‘doing’ that is expected to earn your place in Heaven or just be a good Christian? This mantra and its burden offer a sure pathway to personal burnout and discouragement! We know from personal experience! We got the tee shirt! Performing for God motivated by religion and fear, guilt and shame only adds to life’s burdens for survival and does little or nothing in developing any kind of relationship with God! Being performance orientated will most likely get you noticed and maybe even complimented by your peers but will do little to increase your relationship with God! Just a note: that notice and compliments by your peers can be a trap to the love hungry. Besides what does working yourself silly for an angry, critical and judgmental boss get you? Bottom line here is that religion can be a very destructive way of life and a hindrance to the kind of experience Father intended for mankind!
On the other hand, the life that Father God intended for us can be found if and when all the lies, distortions, deceptions, twists and spins are removed and replaced with God’s truth! Instead of seeing God through the eyes of a Pharisee and the bondage that comes with it, we must see God through the eyes of Jesus and receive all the love and freedom that comes with that! Telling people they must love a God that they should also fear is a brain dead concept! We all have personal experience in life with someone we could not stand to be around, don’t we? Did you love that person? Of course not! Did you try to avoid that person if possible? Yes, once again! Isn’t this a natural human response? However, as children of God we are supposed to learn to live the supernatural life that reflects we are truly Sons and Daughters of our Heavenly Father living above and beyond the natural realm where the world’s population lives. Think about it for a moment. How do we handle scripture that goes against our natural ways? After all, our natural ways are all that we have known until we got born again, aren’t they? So how do we each deal with scripture that goes against our natural responses? For instance, Matthew 5:44 says, “Love your enemies.” Doesn’t that go against the grain of natural response in relationships? For most of us, I’m sure it does, but this is where God’s supernatural gifts can flow in and through us if we press into Him!
Just a side note here. In the scripture “love your enemies” what does the word love used there mean? You might want to get your concordance and look it up. In Strong’s Concordance the word used here for love is #25 in the Greek and it basically means to be good and kind in a social sense. In the scripture “God is love”, the word ‘love’ is has a different meaning. It’s #26 in the Greek and it denotes affection. This is just one example of the good fruit a word study can produce if we will invest ourselves in it. Many times the same word used in different verses has a different meaning, thus we can get a wrong interpretation of what scripture actually means, for example, loving our enemies with affection for them as opposed to be kind and good to them in spite of their dislike for us! Does the truth here not release us to accomplish scripture’s instruction? For me, being kind and good to my enemies is much more doable than having affection for them. How about you?
Now in closing this, what I’m about to share may seem redundant to most of you, but bear with me please! In moving from religion to relationship a person must become born again or relationship with God cannot be established. In John 3:3 Jesus said, “A person must be born again or they cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Now if Jesus said it that settled the issue. Any other opinion is not from God! There is no other way to relationship with God, so each person must decide to go to Jesus and repent of their sin; then invite Jesus to come into their life and be their Lord and Savior. The relationship with God begins here. Get to know Jesus! He is a person. He will fellowship with you! Live for Him and not yourself! He died for you so that you could have a pathway to Father and Heaven, so the least we can do is live for Hi! Now you can also move to get to know Holy Spirit. Invite Him in! Yield to Him! He is our Teacher for our new supernatural life and He empowers us to live it. He brings Father’s supernatural gifts with Him to operate in us and through us to change our world! Then there is Father, Himself. Yes, He is available to each of us on a personal, intimate basis. He is available to be as close as your breath, no longer the distant, angry God out there somewhere, but the true, loving Father of His children being close and intimate! To experience the overwhelming power of His love for each of us is the ultimate, transformational life experience available to us! No performance required! Just yield to Him and invite Him in. He desires relationship with you no matter what you’ve done in the past! Jesus blood covers and washes clean our sin, so because of Him we have an open door to Father! See John 14:6. There Jesus said, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. No person comes to the Father but by Me!”
Now I asked you to bear with me through this past part about relationships with the Trinity so you will hopefully and honestly evaluate where you are in this process that Father has made available to all who will come. Consider this truth. Jesus is the way but Father should be our destination!
Gerri and I have ministered to people who didn’t want a relationship with Father because they had a very painful childhood with their earthly Father! That transference of pain from earthly father to Heavenly Father can have a desperately huge negative consequence to our potential as a child of the Most High God! Religion can make us hard, cold and unloving while relationship and love experience can make us kind, caring and giving. The religious seldom experience the supernatural realm of God but can be quick to criticize those who do! Father has made healing available for all our woundedness if we will only pursue it! Jesus already bought our ticket with His blood. It’s a terrible shame to waste it, don’t you think? Good bye religion. Relationship is taking your place!