We had a Q&A session at our young adults ministry this past Sunday night. For those of you that have never been to a Q&A session at church, it is where a panel of pastors and leaders sit up on stage and answer questions submitted to them from the congregation. One of the questions that always seems to come up in these sessions is, “Does the bible say that I can’t _________?” You can fill in the blank with a lot of things there, especially in our culture today. However, no matter what is put in the blank, the answer never seems to change. The pastor always says something along the lines of this being the wrong question, and that the right question is, “What can I do, or stop doing, to develop a more intimate relationship with God?”
If you think about it, there is a huge difference behind the mindset of those two questions. The first question is based purely on a religious mindset, while the second is based on a relational mindset. The deeper question behind the first question is the question of, “What can I get away with and still be okay?” That is the question that most religions are set up to answer. When we walk from a place of religion, we know what to expect. It helps us to create boundaries that establish how far we are willing to go for God, and how far we are not willing to go. In a sense, it creates slaves that are only able to operate within those boundaries. When we walk from a place of relationship, we lose that control. There are no longer any boundaries. We are operating freely from the place that God loves us and we love Him, and that’s it. Wherever that relationship leads, we are prepared to go. Because we know that He is for us and not against us. We know that He loves and cares for us.
In the performance based world that we live in today, these religious strongholds are a common struggle. It’s easy to carry that performance mindset over into our walk with God. Therefore, we occasionally need to step back and assess our walk with Him to see if we are operating out of relationship or religion. I believe that the following questions can help us assess whether or not we are approaching God from the mindset of religion or relationship. Which of these questions do you find yourself asking Him?
- Religion asks, “Where am I allowed to stop?” Relationship asks, “How far can I go?”
- Religion asks, “What are my boundaries?” Relationship asks, “How can I remove boundaries?”
- Religion asks, “What do I have to do to earn salvation?” Relationship asks, “How can I fully walk in the salvation I am freely given?”
- Religion asks, “How do I protect and save my life?” Relationship asks, “How can I lay down my life?”
- Religion asks, “How do I maintain my walk with God?” Relationship asks, “How do I go deeper in my walk with God?”
God didn’t send His beloved Son to die on a cross to establish a religion. He sent His Son to die on a cross to free us from a spirit of religion, and from every other stronghold that prevents us from walking in the freedom of relationship with Him. Our Father’s unconditional love powerfully beckons us into that deep, intimate relationship. It’s only through that relationship that we can live the life that we were always meant to live; a life overflowing with love, joy and purpose without boundaries. We were never meant to live a life safely hidden behind religious walls, but a meaningful life of freedom in constant relationship with our Father.