I listened to a sermon on YouTube from Bill Johnson. I do this often, along with listening to podcasts, because it is easy for me to absorb the information this way when I am on the go or busy at home. This particular sermon was called “The Resting Place”. I was doing laundry and dealing with my cat attempting to claim the pile of clothes as her own, as she always does, so I did not hear everything he said. But I heard him mention something about the difference between religion and relationship with God, and the sentence ended in, “…religion, being form without power.”
Religion is form without power.
I have been stuck on the topic of religion versus relationship for a while, mostly due to there being so many churches that just DO NOT get this. When I heard him say that, I felt a pull to look up the definition of religion, and also that of relationship.
Religion: the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods
I’ll at least give them kudos for acknowledging that there is a difference between God and gods. Now look at the definition of relationship.
Relationship: the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connect; the state of being connected by blood or marriage; the way in which two or more people or organizations regard and behave toward one another
The first thing that stands out to me is that the belief and worship that religion claims to be can only be authentic when stemming from a relationship with God. The depth of the definition of relationship is what we should long for with God. This cannot be found in religion.
The second thing is that religion is about a “controlling power”. Religion convinces people that God is doing things He isn’t doing because they don’t really know His heart and can’t explain why things happen. We live in a fallen world, and although God is doing things and using people to do His work, not every single thing that happens is God’s fault. We all have choices to make in life. Having a relationship with God is about choosing Him and choosing to let Him have His way in our lives. He isn’t looking to force everything on us. He wants to be connected to us. When that happens, we begin to do things that bring Him glory because we know He loves us. It is a mutual relationship.
The most beautiful part of the definition of relationship is where it says, “THE STATE OF BEING CONNECTED BY BLOOD OR MARRIAGE.” Do you realize that when we become truly saved we are connected to God by both of these? Not only were we purchased by the blood of Jesus, but the Bible also calls Him the Bridegroom. You’ll hear people refer to the church as “the bride of Christ” because of this. We are connected by blood and marriage to the Creator!
Again, religion is form without power. We can only receive power through relationship because relationship is our connection to God. Religion is just a show that keeps us distant from Him all while believing He is controlling everything.
So which do you prefer? Religion, which performs “worship” but keeps God at a distance, leaving us powerless? Or relationship, which produces fruit of belief and worship through a connection to the one true and POWERFUL Vine, who bought us with blood because of Love?
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