“Christianity is not a religion it’s a relationship”
–said by many who can’t keep church unity nor marriage vows.
Let me begin by saying that I do believe a believer can have a relationship with God through Christ by the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
That being said, the idea that Christianity is a relationship and not a religion is a false dichotomy. Why can’t it be both? It, in fact, is.
“Religion” is a word that gets lots of heat. I’m really not sure why. Religion merely means stuff you do religiously, as in regularly, habitually, as a pattern. People religiously do their mornings the same. We do the same stuff at work. We do the same stuff when we come home from work. We are “creatures of habit.” Habit and religion are pretty much the same.
My wife and I have a great relationship. We love each other and have fun together. We also religiously do the same things. We eat the same types of supper, go to the same restaurants, go to bed at the same time. In fact, as any married person knows, if you veer from your typical behavior, your spouse will very quickly ask, “Why are you doing that? You never do that.”
I began eating cereal at night. I told my wife one week to get me a box of Froot Loops from the store. You would have thought the world was coming to an end. The Spanish Inquisition broke out, which I was not expecting (no one expects the Spanish Inquisition). “Look, I just want a bowl of Froot Loops, that’s all. It’s no big deal.”
Relationships are religious, that’s kind of what makes them relationships.
People I don’t know (I don’t have a relationship with) primarily are strangers because we don’t go to the same places or do the same things. Since we’re always doing different things in different places we don’t know each other. It is only when two people religiously show up to the same place to do the same stuff that relationships even start!
For the most part, the “Christianity is a relationship not a religion” is said by people who have a lazy faith. These are the same people who let go and let God. The same people who worship out in the woods, man rather than come to church regularly.
People who say “Christianity is a relationship not a religion” are typically just lazy bums, half-hearted believers who think any call to action is a sign of legalism.
Let it also be noted that the same people that say “Christianity is a relationship not a religion” are frequently people who have terrible relations with their kids, are divorced, and can’t find the time to train their dog. If their relationships are any indicator, Lord help us if all Christianity is is a relationship.
I suppose there is a segment of people who say this phrase who mean something good. It’s a cry against formality and mindless ritual. I get it. But let’s not throw out babies with their bath water. Going to the opposite extreme is not the way to solve problems; it’s just a handy way to create a different problem.
To me, “Christianity is a relationship not a religion” is just a fru-fru, floaty statement that means “I can do whatever I want because Jesus. I don’t have to listen to you and your old church ways.” Fine. Do your thing. I truly hope these people do have a relationship with Christ.
I doubt it though, because if they did, religious behavior would be happening.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.