A couple weeks ago at a youth group meeting, I posed this question: "If you had to describe Christianity in one word, what would it be?" I got a variety of responses including faith, love, salvation, and even a reference to John 3:16. I then offered my response, which was "relationship." After all... what makes Christianity unique in the miriad of other religions throughout the world? Relationship.
I have also been wondering, after reading "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller (def. a must read), to what extent we as so called "Christians" have been substituting this relationship Christ intended for his followers to have with him... with a "formula-filled religion." In my opinion, it's an overwhelming truth within our faith that has stunted our production of spiritual fruits for way too long. I say this not to bash "organized religion," but only to make the point that I do believe, to some extent, it has replaced that sacred, holy, and loving relationship God longs for us to have with himself. Allow me to quote Donald...
"And that's the thing about being religious; it isn't this safe place in the soul you can go, it has just as many booby traps as any other thing you can get yourself into. It's a bloody brothel, in fact. Jesus even says there will be people who will heal other people, but when they die He is going to say He didn't know them. It is somewhat amazing to me, once again, that all of Christianity, all our grids and mathematics and truths and different groups subscribing to different theological ideas, boils down to our knowing Jesus and His knowing us."
Think about the "best Christian" you know. How would you describe that person? There are members of my youth group that use this terminology often to describe those Christians they admire and look up to. When I hear it, I ask them, "What exactly do you mean by they are a 'good Christian?" I get a list consisting of things such as this: regular church attendance, honesty, nice, don't smoke, drink, or curse, don't have sex, Bible knowledge, etc... I'm sure i'm not the only one who has heard this list.
But, what if, when describing a Christian we admire and look up to... instead of rattling off a list of do's and dont's, we would say something like,
"You can just tell he/she is in love with Jesus. He radiates from them. Whenever i'm around them... I can feel His Spirit flowing out of them."
I will go out on a limb and state that I think Jesus Christ would much rather have a follower that exemplifies the latter description. Is our "religion" as we know it getting us to that place? In my opinion, it isn't. What we need is a relationship revival. Christians need to determine in their hearts that they are going to seek God in everything they do, everything they say, every thought they think, and every decision they make. We need to determine that we are going to work at building our relationship with Jesus just as we build our relationships with our families, friends, and significant others... by loving them, talking with them, listening to them, and most importantly... speding TIME with them! He needs to become our priority... and when that happens, all of the do's and dont's will flow naturally from our closeness to Him. Until then... we will continue our measly attempts to follow all of the rules on our own and we will continue to fail. We've missed the point... relationship is what God desires, period.