Not religion but relationship


Yes, except the spiritually dead person is only “almost a Christian,” while the spiritually alive person is “altogether Christian,” to borrow a phrase from John Wesley. Yes, both are practicing religion, but religion can only give people the tools to fake it if they lack the real thing, which is sharing in Christ’s life, death, and victorious resurrection.

No, and I don’t think that is what is conveyed when someone says “Christianity is not a religion but a relationship”–unless the hearer wants it to mean that. When someone says it’s “not a religion but a relationship” they mean what they say.

What is a relationship? It is being in continual communication and fellowship. It is being connected. It is talking to that person. It is sharing pain, sorrow, joy, and triumphs. It is loving that person with which you are in relationship. It is vital, real, and living.

In the Christian context, that all encompasses having a life filled with the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, and partaking in the sacraments/ordinances. It involves displaying the fruits of the Holy Spirit and sharing the love of Christ through works of charity and mercy.

Well, if we are being sticklers for dictionary definitions, the word used in the New Testament was the Greek word ekklesia, which literally means “called out” or “called forth.” It was commonly used to indicate groups of individuals who were gathered together for a particular purpose, such as an assembly of the citizens of a city.

The English word “church” is derived from a Greek word kuriake via the Germanic. It means “of the Lord” as in “congregation of the Lord” or “house of the Lord.” Anyway you look at it, the original meaning of the word referred to the gathering of Christians, i.e. the body of Christ, without any connection to a specific consecrated building.

In the New Testament, we are the temple of God, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Every patch of dirt on which we step is holy ground and set apart for worship.

What’s the point of being religious without being converted?

I think you make a good point. If someone is taking the time out of their life to even practice religion at all, that does seem to indicate they must have some relationship with God. Just not necessarily a saving, grace-filled one, which requires a real conversion of heart.

“Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship”

One could say a Christian is one who has God as his Father. That would be a relationship.

I think the likeness of God we were created in was for a relationship and that we are created for that purpose. We certainly weren’t created to be observed by God.

The Trinity is obviously a perfect relationship. Isn’t Christianity about the atonement of Christ so that we can be once again in a relationship with God?

Rom 8 is a good chapter on a relationship.

Why argue semantics?

That’s pretty much my reaction to “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship” too.

We are not in full communion with God until we reach Heaven when we are in perfect relationship with God and the physical Church fully turns into the spiritual ‘Bride’ (I think?). On this earth, Jesus said He wanted a Church, which indicates that religion and relationship with the Holy Trinity are intertwined, at least for any initial relationship with God to grow - which comes from having a firm rock beneath! (Scripture quotes apply). What came first: the relationship or the religion? Could it be argued that they developed simultaneously?

I’m not sure if I agree with the implications of this thought. Yes, it is true that “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13). Yet, Scripture also makes it clear that faith, hope, and love bridge the gap between the partial and the complete, the now and the eternal.

Even now, if we are born again, we are “in Christ” and He “dwells in our hearts.” We have been “made alive together with Christ” and “raised up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Yes, the ultimate result of God’s plans have not come into existence, but we share in communion and fellowship and relationship with Christ, through the Holy Spirit, who reveals to us the Father.

And how is it that we enter into this life? We “receive” Christ as we would receive someone who loved us before we ever even knew what love was.The New Testament is full of imagery describing our acceptance of Christ in terms of personal relationship.

John 1:12—But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.

John 6:35—And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

Revelation 3:20—Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

We don’t need “the Church” to be in communion with Christ. Rather we are part of the Church because we have been called out and sanctified by Christ. It is in relationship with Him that we come into relationship with the Church, sharing in the life of Christ.

No one is implying anything, I have simply stated what is. We can have a relationship of sorts with God which can then bring us into fuller communion with Him - Church, the Sacraments, and then our relationship grows via our expression, and His giving, as part of being the Bride of Christ (Church) on earth in our Catholic religion. The members of the Church are the body with Christ as the head. The members of the Church then becomes the Spiritual Bride of Christ in Heaven when we die. It is all about relationship but religion is part and parcel of going to Church in order that our relationship doesn’t fizzle out. We need the Sacraments just as we need Church and her religion to grow. That is not to say God cannot save others too but there is a difference between a more sure way of getting to Heaven (although still hard for most) and a much less sure way that does not recognise Holy Scripture and the Church as valid. Again, if you don’t believe what I say read the Pope’s remarks and read Vatican documents. I am not saying we can’t ever be in communion with God though, but to sustain this 24/7 would be like being a perfect individual, which is why we are told in the NT to ‘try to be perfect.’ We are not in Heaven yet. :slight_smile:

Those quotes also apply to the Sacraments.

You say ‘we don’t need Church’ and then say that through Him we come into ‘relationship with the Church’. Well, if one is a natural follow on, then if we have faith in God, who, yes, loved us from the beginning, then we understand we have been given the choice of Heaven but if we are truly expressing our faith in Christ in acceptance of the narrow path laid out by Jesus Christ Himself in Scripture for our salvation then we take heed of ALL of Christ’s words, and the follow on occurs, as written in…

'Matthew 16:18-19:

"*So now I say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.

…I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be considered loosed in heaven*."’

However, there are many rooms in God’s House, so no one has the right to put a limit on God’s mercy, BUT, those who do understand that Church is necessary and have reasonable means and the freedom to get to Church have a duty to do so :thumbsup: Does God allow those who didn’t go to Church but were good people to enter into Heaven, I believe so, but those people if they were given the choice, had their circumstances been very different, would probably have been the ones who would have welcomed the Church with open arms and accepted God’s mercy if they had known the truth or had not been restricted, rather than the ones who reject the Church out of plain stubbornness, obstinacy and, well, hatred. Those that DO LOVE are met with God’s mercy, (I suspect), because God IS Love. Now if a Pope makes a new ruling of how an interpretation is to be understood, that is within God’s love, all Christians are to follow this rule because of the bind (in Matthew). And this does mean that the Pope can bring the Church into the fuller understanding of God’s mercy that is revealed over time in the Holy Spirit in the revelation that has already been realized: Jesus IS mercy, in Scripture. And the Pope if guided by the Holy Spirit will not be changing anything, but developing, our understanding and expression, of faith.


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