|Volume 23 Number 7 July 2021
Not a Religion but a Relationship?
Cecil May, Jr.
It is popular in some circles to say, “Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship.” It is certainly an often-overlooked truth that Christianity is a relationship with God the Father and with Jesus Christ, God’s Son and our Lord and Savior. It is, however, also a “religion,” in the original sense of the Latin word “religio,” which means “bond,” “obligation” and “reverence.” Our relationship with Jesus is as Lord. He has laid on us bonds and obligations, “religio.” He himself asked, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:45 ESV). Today’s culture downplays authority – of policemen, of parents, of elders and of even of the Bible, which is the Word of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
The fact that all Scripture is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) is an unequivocal assertion of biblical authority over the lives of believers and the church. All authority is being questioned. Christianity, while it does involve a relationship with Jesus and God, is a faith with content. It is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling. Christianity is a religion founded on a relationship with One Who is Lord and God.
Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid, Part 4
Nobody likes being scared. It is a very uncomfortable feeling. Usually when we’re scared, we feel powerless. We just don’t know what is going to happen next.
There have been many who have argued that the biblical admonition to “fear God” (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10) really means “respect God” or “reverence God.” While no one would say that we should not respect and reverence God, is this really what the word means?
If fear actually means respect, then we have John saying “perfect love casts out respect” (1 John 4:18). Does that make any sense? Are we somehow supposed to transition out of respecting God? Of course not! So, fear does not mean respect. We should respect God our whole life, but we shouldn’t fear God our whole life.
Now apply the same point to the word “reverence.” Is John saying that “perfect love casts out reverence”? Of course not! So, fear does not mean reverence. We should have reverence for God for the duration of our lives.
What, then, is the application? God wants us to understand that we will – like it or not – face Him in the Judgment. We will be judged according to our deeds, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10). That is a scary thought. That is frightening! So, what should be our response? Obedience. It is that simple. God has told us what He wants us to do. When we “walk in the light,” we have nothing about which to worry because Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).