Religion – Devotion to a religious faith, a personal set of institutionalized system of religious beliefs, attitudes and practices, a cause principle or belief held to with faith and ardor.
Please do not call it religion, to me, I call it relationship, this wonderful connection, that I have with Jesus Christ.
I tell you, and in all honesty, I get annoyed with the worlds perception, of this. Especially, when I try to explain my faith. They say something like….”Oh your religious.” And then they would get this smug, attitude. With me, and more or less alienate themselves from me. When I was weaker in my faith, I was unable to explain it. And I so wanted to. But I think I have grown in this relationship so much, that I think I can now. So bear with me, as I try and explain my definition of religion, and relationship.
I listed the definition of religion above, but thats not exactly my interpretation of religion. My definition, of religion is:
Rules made by men, or an organization, that represents, their God. But, in actuality, the relationship is not there, and all that is there are these rules, traditions, and rituals, that somehow, get in the way, of who God really is, and is so misinterpreted, in so many ways. That all you really see, is someone telling you about God, and rules about God, according to their standards, but the love wasn’t there, even at the organization. And they would not practice, what they would preach.
And Christ told us, according to the Bible, that we would know his people by the love. By the love we have for one another, and for him.
There are so many religions out there. Professing, to be the right way.
But there is only one Jesus Christ. And he is the way, the truth and the life. John 14:6
When I was growing up, in search of God, I went to many church organizations. And some would do some strange things, that even in my youth, I would question. And they would be under the guise of the name, of my Lord, Jesus. Now don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, I still learned. Now that I think about it, to be fair, and respectful, many of them did have good intentions. But they may or may not have had true foundation in the word of God. So many of them missed it. And to be honest, without that foundation of the word of God, implemented. It really does turn into religion. Whether you want to believe that or not.
Jesus told us in Matthew 23….But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and and put them on mens shoulders but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. And do not call anyone on earth father for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. He says a lot more, about religious leaders who basically push people away from faith. By their actions. But as he closes that chapter he says...I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you were not willing. Sometimes, religion, can turn us off, and then we are not willing. But we have to see through that, and see Christ, and see through religion into relationship with him, instead. The only way we can really know who he is, is by developing our relationship with him, in prayer, submission, obedience, love, and his word.
I remember asking my mom lots of questions, when we would go to different churches. Different religions. Why do they do this or that? Like… why do they keep sitting down or standing up? Why don’t they read the Bible? Why do they bow to that statue, if the first commandment says, thou shalt not have false Gods? Why can’t you celebrate Christmas, or birthdays? Why would they snub a person publicly, because they were in some kind of sin? What if they were not in sin. Is it right to judge them? Now maybe you can see through some of my questions, and you can identify with what I am saying. You might even recognize some of the religions, I checked out. My point is not to criticize any organization. But the truth of the matter, is that I finally got tired of religion. And decided to find God for myself. And I have….
Now let me try and explain the “relationship” that I have. With Jesus Christ. It is not something, that I understood early in my walk with him. I just always knew, that I loved him. I was always curious about him. I could see at an early age, his creation, and that would always cause me to ask, how did it happen etc. Thank God my mom, was not a person, who did not believe, because she would tell me, it was God. So, I always had a thought, or an understanding, even though very limited, that God was in power. At an early age, I ventured into this search for God. Going to church’s with my mother. And we went to different churches, different denominations. Different….and it was always so confusing.
My first true teachings of the Bible came, when I was about 10 or 11 years of age. A Bible bus, came into my neighborhood. A local church, that loved the kids, would come, and they gathered the kids, together, and would take them to the park. They would have Bible studies, for kids, and they made it fun, and challenging. They would love us, and treat us kind. Sometimes feeding us. They would have contests, for the kids, to see who could learn the most Bible scriptures, by memory. And to see who could bring the most kids, with them. So you could win, pretty, ribbons, with verses on them, and the big prize, would be a Bible. So, I was pretty competitive. And I would win the Bibles. Trying to get kids to go there. Anyway, to make a long story short…that was the beginning of my understanding of God. As I grew older, and into a young woman, I wanted to have fun. Yes, just like the song….Anyway, I departed from those truths, I learned on that Bible bus. I wanted to do things my way. Those were the darkest, loneliest times of my life.
And after many years, of making mistake, after mistake, and falling into sin. I began searching for God again. This time, I decided, I was going to give him, my all and all, and not walk the fence. I decided I was going to search for him, and obey him. Instead of yes, having a head knowledge of him I wanted a heart transplant. So I gave my heart back to him, and rededicated myself to him. The Bible, is the voice, that brings understanding to me. That brings instruction, truth, and revelation, as to who God is. So I can understand him in this relationship I have with him. I have learned that God is a holy God, a sovereign, and loving, compassionate God. He has been faithful to me, by giving his life as a sacrifice, so I try to be faithful to him. I am not perfect. But he is. And he has shown me, in so many ways, his word is truth. And truly nothing is impossible with him. He has healed me, physically, and spiritually, so I truly am convinced of his power, and his presence. He may be silent, in some instances, but he is there. I know it. For when he does speak to my heart, in that small voice. He does not shout, he just speaks, and my heart knows. Whenever a negative thought, comes, and it does not feel right, he reminds me….”Elena what does my word say?” And then I know for sure, what to do, and gain peace. I gain instruction, and wisdom, that only he gives. I know that I know….because I know him. I give him all my cares, all my sorrows, all my fears, all my love. Reminding him, and myself, that I am now new in him, whenever, the past, or negative thoughts try to persuade me, that I am not his daughter. He shows me that I am. And as I try and do my part, in loving him, obeying him….In return he protects me, gives me peace, gives me hope, and blesses me, in big and small ways. That I just know, that I know, it is him. It is Jesus Christ.
I can go on and on, describing my relationship with him. But to be honest some things are personal, that only he and I know about. But I know I have a relationship with him. I know his loving voice. I know, the difference between relationship and religion. I don’t knock churches, or religions, if they help you. I do go to church, because I want to learn more about God, and because he says that we need to gather together. So I do. But every time I look for a church there is the criteria, that needs to be met. And thats the love….then I look for the rest. It has to be Bible based.
I know what Christ did for me, he became the sacrifice. Some religions believe that you have to give up your life, and become a martyr. Christ did that for me. So I know the difference. I am not the sacrifice. He was. He is the lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who takes away the sins of the world. Anyway, different strokes for different folks. Whatever you believe. Thats great. I never try to force my relationship on anyone. Truth of the matter, God is the same way. He gives us all the facts, the truth, but he is always a gentleman. He gives us a free will.
But when I finally decided to believe. He showed me more then I can even say. I just know the difference….and what I have is not religion. It is a relationship. Based on real love….that I see and know. Blessings, and Just my thoughts….Elena Ramirez
A Prayer of Hope….
Father, I thank you for the relationship I have with you. I thank you for just who you are. Almighty God. Lord, you could have left me to myself, to my sins, but you loved me so much, you sent your only begotten son for me. I am grateful, that because I believe. I know I have a place with you. Father, thank you for teaching me, and prompting me as well, so I do not turn legalistic, with your rules, and make this about religion. Its always about the grace you give in this relationship, so I honor you, and just ask, that you prompt me if I ever get legalistic or religious. I do not want to be known by religion. And I certainly do not want to hit people upside the head with the Bible. Your love does not do that. It convicts, but never condemns.
Lord, many do not know you. I want to be an expression of your love, I want to do all I can to just show you to them. Lord, you will do the rest. Help that person, who might be reading this, who does not know you. That they truly can have a relationship with you, and put aside the religion. They can know, the true and living God. Thank you Lord, my Father, my savior, my friend, and counselor, and healer, Thank you….In Jesus name. Amen
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