Not A Religion

Christians are apt to tell others outside the faith that we do not have a religion; we have a relationship. It’s really true.

When I consider what is different between the beliefs of, say, my cousin who is a Buddhist or my cousin who believes in some form of Hinduism, and my faith, I come to this religion/relationship issue.

I thought perhaps our understanding of heaven and what happens after death might be a key component in our differences. After all, Christians have the hope of heaven. We don’t see eternal life as an endless merry-go-round of incarnated lives, hopefully getting better and better until we lose ourselves completely.

No, Christianity is vastly different. We have the same sad parting from a loved one who passes away, but we have the hope of a future with that person if they embrace the good news of Jesus. Our parting is temporary. Not a good-bye but a see you later, as blogger friend Wally so beautifully reminded us in his post about his father-in-law.

Certainly that is different. Different from atheists who think death ends life completely. Different from people who have no idea what happens when we die, or from ones who think we all end up in the same place, whatever that place might be.

Christians have a knowledge that leads to assurance and hope, despite the grief of parting. It’s unique, but it isn’t the only thing we have.

In truth, we only have the hope of everlasting life, which we will enjoy with our loved ones who also believe, because first and foremost we have a relationship. We have a unique connection with the God of the universe, made possible because of what Jesus Christ was willing to endure on our behalf. So here and now, in this present world, we enjoy this kinship with Jesus.

The Bible introduces all kinds of metaphors to help us picture what would otherwise be so mysterious we’d have a hard time grasping the significance and truth about our being reconciled with God.

Jesus describes Himself as a Good Shepherd, a Mediator, a Friend, a vine, and more. But most significantly, He calls Himself our brother while at the same time identifying us as children. In other words, there’s an element of kinship involved, which is really just another way of saying relationship.

I suppose the most obvious aspect of this relationship is the love of God which is poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit. His love is behind His taking care of our sin problem, and that’s something we enjoy now. The weight of guilt, gone; the fear of judgment, dealt with. Hebrews 2 says we’re set free from the slavery of the fear of death.

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of this relationship is that we Christians are growing up, spiritually speaking. We’re starting to want the things God says He wants. Sure, it would be nice to be rich and famous, but how much better to live in such a way that God receives glory and honor! How much better to love our neighbors, to see unbelieving people become the committed followers of Christ?

Why would we do that?

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” — Jim Elliot

We cannot lose the love of Christ.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

We cannot lose the joy and peace and patience and kindness and self-control that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Those things will only grow and fill our lives more fully as we get to know our Savoir more and more.

We cannot lose our forgiveness, our justification, our right standing before God.

We cannot lose the privilege of prayer.

We cannot lose God as our “victorious warrior.”

“The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I could go on. There is so much that our relationship with God through Christ gives us. Christianity is about as far from “religion” with its cold ritual and self-help efforts as imaginable. But friendship? Sonship (and daughtership)? Brotherhood (and sisterhood)? Those are the things that define our faith. And they are things we will enjoy without end!

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27 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This was beautiful Becky and so encouraging. Thanks for linking also.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Clearly it is the indoctrinated who are unable to separate themselves from God Becky.

    It is an extremely difficult task to imagine heaven as heavenly. I read a similar story to these just recently.

    What happens if you get to heaven and your other half does not make it or your children fail to get there, however your lazy adulterous neighbour is there and a well-known notorious rapist?

    Or you get to heaven and you are in a massive crowd of people standing in the bright light of God and he asks all of you to group yourselves into your religious orders. You are so relieved when God points to the Christian group and claims them as the saved ones.
    Next minute all the non-Christians disappear down into red glowing pits screaming as they go just as God is reaffirming his love for Christians.

    You fail to understand how God could be so cruel to so many and you are told your family failed to repent their sins so you are to stop ranting and raving and reminded that God’s judgement is never wrong, so therefore you have to go back to your 12 hour shift of worshipping and adoring the ever-loving God. Sounds great Becky 🙂

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    • Steve bless Becky for her patience with you. I am not so much. Now I know why you refuse to read the Bible. The narrative you have constructed is found nowhere in it. If you actually read the text for your self you would no longer be able to create straw men you can easily tear down. I challenge every word that comes from your keyboard. You quote mine with no attribution when you want to look scientific and you adopt the absurd arguments of atheists fundamentalists as your own. Barring that you just make up theology that does not exist. Steve I promise you both Becky and I have read much alternative literature other than just the Bible. In fact my copy of The God Delusion is up front on my book self. You on the other have not studied the Bible and refuse to do so.Steve you are a posturing fool with zero credibility.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hello Wally, this has certainly bought you out of the woodwork.

        I just put my own spin on Mr Dawkins ideas, and I do not claim anything I have said is written in the Bible, however I am allowed to speculate as all Christians do.

        Take it as a bit of humour because you do not know any more than I do.

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        • Steve, that is a lie. You clearly presented that as something that Christians believe in an effort to create a straw man you could easily destroy due to its sheer stupidity. I just caught you, that is all. See? That is because I am not scared to read literature that disagrees with me. Read the Bible, Steve, get your own thoughts and quit being an atheist parrot. I’m done with this conversation; I just wanted to clearly call out the game you were playing, lest another fall for your duplicity. Have a day, Steve.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Steve, I find your comment quite enlightening. I wrote some 800 words about a relationship with God through Christ. However, you chose to ignore three-fourths of what I said to camp on the part that holds you in slavery—your fear of death and the coming judgment.

      Yes, Wally is right. In order to frivolously dismiss the truth that eternal life is one of the benefits of a relationship with Christ, you have constructed your straw man that enables you to remain angry at God and opposed to Him. But know this for certain: you are standing against the All Mighty who longs for you to turn to Him, who loves you so much that if you were the last person on earth He still would have died for you. Simply put, He loves you, Steve, and will continue to pursue you until there is no hope.

      Becky

      Liked by 3 people

      • Who is the voice I listen to inside my head Becky? Is it God or maybe even Satan? No way, it is neither, just myself internally talking to myself, I have a relationship with my brain that will work things out that are sometimes right and sometimes wrong.

        The Muslim has a voice that is his Islamic God who is called upon to help work out things that are sometimes right and sometimes wrong.

        Your voice is the Christian God and he is called upon to help you work out things for you that sometimes work out right and sometimes wrong, right?

        Do you see the pattern Becky?

        “Simply put, He loves you, Steve, and will continue to pursue you until there is no hope.”

        Well if your God truly had any power he could make all of humanity love him before they died and then he could sack the whole department of devils.
        Sorry Becky but evidence points emphatically that no gods exist.

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        • Actually, Steve, I do have a voice inside my head that states my thoughts. Sometimes a thought flashes through my mind before I can articulate it verbally or sub-vocally. That is not God speaking.

          God most often speaks through His word, but sometimes through the wisdom of others, like friends or pastors. He can also speak through circumstances. If necessary He speaks in a voice that I don’t always discern as separate from my own thoughts—except they come out of the blue and have no apparent connection with what I am doing, saying, or thinking. Always I sense God’s presence, His peace, His willingness to hear my concerns or praise or questions.

          In other words, Steve, no, there is no discernible pattern when you compare God and His Holy Spirit communicating to believers and what others do inside their heads.

          But I understand that you have no way of knowing the difference. All you know is one thing, so you can’t imagine that other people have something else going on inside their heads that you don’t have. But that’s a fact, Steve.

          Sadly, it’s also a fact that some people have evil spirits talking to them. I’m not referring to the people who have a psychotic problem, either. Bottom line is, we don’t know who those people are because they don’t announce themselves and few talk about it, though their were some Hollywood types a few years back thanking their spirit guides for this and that. I’ve heard more about Wicca of late, too, so there might be more people “relating” to evil spirits than I know.

          Bottom line, Steve, is that you think all others are just like you. That’s the measuring stick you are using. But it’s weak, at best, and not accurate. Even when we tell you that , no, I’m not experiencing what you think I am, you still hold on to the idea that you know what’s inside my head more than I know what’s inside my head. It’s kind of funny, actually.

          As far as God’s love is concerned, He doesn’t force anyone to love Him because in short, that would not be love. Love is freely given, not coerced, gained by manipulation, or caused by removing our free will.

          God’s power was clearly demonstrated by Jesus Christ rising from the dead three days after He was buried—just as He said He would. So God’s power is absolutely at work in His pursuit of those who turn to Him.

          But again, He leaves the door open so those who choose against Him can walk away. Of course, there are consequences for doing so: joys and blessings God wishes to give that will never be yours, judgment and separation from Him for eternity awaiting in the future.

          Becky

          Liked by 1 person

          • You seem to forget Becky that there are literally thousands of ex-religious people out here in atheist world, many of them were pastors, ministers or priests and nuns with qualifications in various religious studies etc. They tell the truth, you cannot write them all off and declare they were not true Christians. They know that you can apply anything that occurs inside your head or any event you wish as an act of God, Satan or whatever deity you like. Easy for theists to believe it is God, after all people have been fooled by this phenomenon for many thousands of years from the most primitive of man to today’s religions.

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          • Steve, I don’t forget those people at all. Some in my FB atheist group fall into that category. As it happens, I listed to a sermon on the radio today that discussed this very issue: about how there will be people who once claimed faith but either were not Christians or mistook their own efforts for God’s free gift. One sign of true faith is continuing, “firmly established and steadfast and not moved away from the hope of the gospel.” Pretty clearly those who say they’ve abandoned Christ are none of those things.

            But what caused you to bring up that sad group of people?

            By making your assertion again, Steve, I don’t know if you think you are changing your opinion into evidence, or what. I’m telling you, yes, I can fool myself into thinking my thoughts are from God. I can also miss what He wants me to do because I convince myself that it’s only my own crazy thought and not actually God’s voice. But I’ve had a couple experiences that were simply too obvious, too unusual, too explicitly what I needed to do, and those thoughts did not come from me. They didn’t.

            I have no doubt now that God’s Holy Spirit who lives in each believer whispers or gently nudges and only sometimes shouts (which is what He did for me in the circumstances I referred to above). Most often, and most clearly, He speaks through the inspired word of God, the Bible.

            Is that why you don’t want to read it, Steve? Are you afraid God will actually speak to you through His word?

            Becky

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes Becky, you have reverted to the tried and untruthful way most theists use. This is such an easy way to explain someone who spent 20 or 30 years as a priest and a student of theology. This is called lying for Jesus because if you were to realise that the ones who joined Christianity were in your view not really atheists or Muslims, Mormons or Jews etc. Therefore that blanket approach is unlikely to be true isn’t it? So there must be more to it than what theists are told to say and it cannot be waved off with simple proverbial statements.

            “But I’ve had a couple experiences that were simply too obvious, too unusual, to explicitly what I needed to do, and those thoughts did not come from me. They didn’t.”

            I too, have had some thought experiences that must have come from a god that were unusual and popped into my mind (unlike my usual thoughts) and made me do the right thing and what I needed to do where many others have failed. What this means is we have the same experiences in life. I have also had life balanced out with some poor decision making as well, and understandably this happens to everybody, even Christians.

            “He speaks through the inspired word of God, the Bible. Is that why you don’t want to read it, Steve?”

            I am not moved by the Biblical word in any way, I have read many parts of it and it does nothing for me, tell me why I would want to read every single page? It is true that many people who read the bible for the first time are offended, upset or simply do not believe the content and would never become Christians and that is the category I am in.

            “Are you afraid God will actually speak to you through His word?”

            No Becky, you have to be convinced there is a god and you will have to want and expect a voice in your head to be your gods voice, no matter what religion it may be.

            Like

          • “tell me why I would want to read every single page? ”

            Because you posture and preen as if you are some sort of Biblical scholar, yet your complete refusal to actually read it establishes your credentials as an indoctrinated atheist fundamentalist who can only parrot the words of others.

            That might be why you want to read it, so you have some credibility.

            Have a day, Steve

            Liked by 2 people

          • I have never said I am a Biblical scholar Wally and it is the last thing I would want to be. Thanks to the internet I can check up any Biblical passage I want from a dozen different Bibles at any time of the day. No problem because everything you want to know about any religion is on the internet, so simple Wally, you do not need to flick through those thin pages of your old worn out yellow paged Bible any more.

            By the way, atheists do not have an ideology or doctrine to be indoctrinated into we simply have a disbelief, nor can we be atheist fundamentalist because we have no doctrine or scripture to get our knickers in a twist over such as religious scriptures.

            Best of luck Wally.

            Like

          • Hey don’t fault me for calling you a fundamentalist. You are the one always saying that quote real unquote atheists could never convert and believe. If one can be a real versus wannabe atheist then some system of belief most be what prevents it. Steve. Fact. Until you actually read the text you have zero bonafides to critique it. That is basic scholarship. You are scared of it Steve. You are scared that the two edged sword of God’s Word will cut through your soul and reveal to you just who you are. I dare you to man up and read it. The Gospel of John would be a good place to start. And I don’t mean go quote mine some atheist website about it, I mean read it. But, we all know you won’t.

            Have a day.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ha, ha, you are a real laugh Wally.

            “You are scared of it Steve. You are scared that the two edged sword of God’s Word will cut through your soul and reveal to you just who you are.”

            You forget the church tried to indoctrinate me as a kid Wally, and they failed miserably, so much so they thought I was a bad influence on the other kids because I was always commenting on the mythical stories especially on Adam and Eve’s fig leaves.

            Ok I will read The Gospel of John starting tomorrow, please pray that I get through it without falling asleep too often. 😊

            Like

          • That’s awesome Steve. I don’t guarantee your life will change but it’s a start. Have a good day.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Steve, I didn’t see this comment when I answered the earlier one. If you do intend to read John, I suppose you don’t have a Bible sitting around which you can use. Here’s a link to the first chapter in the English Standard Version: https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/jhn/1/1/s_998001 You can go from there.

            Becky

            Liked by 1 person

          • Steve, I’ve not challenged you to read every single word of the Bible. Just a book or two. Genesis perhaps. Or John. Or Romans. But you won’t do it, though you speak as if you know all about Christianity, all about the Bible and all about the “lack of evidence” for God. That’s foolish! How can you make a fair and equitable judgment about what you do not know? You can’t! Nobody can. It’s a silly position to take and I’ve been trying to figure out why you are so unwilling to actually do what you say people who want to know how things actually are, do. So fear seems like a good answer to me. You have given me no other. Except, “I’ve read a lot.” No, you haven’t. You’ve read the verses that atheists cherry-pick in order to find fault with God, who they say does not exist. If they truly believe He does not exist, why attack His character?

            Makes no sense.

            Which reminds me. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say in the first part of your comment. I don’t know what you’re referring to. Something about priests who have been in their position for 20-30 years? And “lying for Jesus?” Who are you talking about? And what’s the reference to atheists and Muslims? Those could not be further from each other in beliefs. So what are you saying?

            Becky

            Like

        • The Natural Man is an enemy to God, Steve.

          Liked by 3 people

  4. There was a link. Did you remove it? I don’t mind you linking and actually am quite honored by it.

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  5. Ha ha. Don’t mind me. I did it by accidentally spamming it! Delete my mindless rambling Becky.

    Like

    • OK, since I’m a little confused here. Yes, their is a link with “his post.” It was such a good article, I wanted to let others know about it.

      Becky

      Like

      • Never mind. I was confused!

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  6. I very much dislike that you put Christianity on a pedestal and describe “some kind of Hinduism” as a merry go round.

    I am not a Hindu but you do not even show respect for a religion that a member of your family follows?

    This is typical of someone of faith believing that they are on the right path while everyone else is wrong.

    Like

    • blurredline, thanks for sharing your honest thoughts about this post.

      I think pretty much everyone thinks that what they believe is the right path. I mean, who would say, “I think I’m on the wrong path, but I’m going to believe it anyway.” In addition, pretty much every religion excludes every other religion. If you haven’t discovered this, it might be helpful to find out about the claims of various religions.

      But Christianity does have one unique benefit: Jesus precisely claimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” So those who believe Jesus could hardly say, “I believe Jesus, but all other paths lead to God as well.” I mean, that actually would contradict Jesus and would be evidence that that person does not believe Him at all.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person


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