It's Not About Religion. It's About A Relationship. Really?
We've all heard it and probably said it at one point: “Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with Christ.” I have heard this repeated. What use is a hierarchical authority in a personal relationship to Jesus? "If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart. Many people like saying things like Christianity is not a religion it's a relationship. This is true, but it's not the entire truth. Christianity is a religion.
One of the biggest errors used in supporting this mantra is the constant reference to the Pharisees. It is assumed that the Pharisees were religious, judgmental, and only cared about God's Law and enforcing it. Every single one of these assumptions are incorrect. First of all, the Pharisees were not following God's Law at all. In fact, this is why Jesus called them "hypocrites.
Does that mean that you are endeavoring to follow and implement God's Law in every sphere of life? In fact, we are told to do that! By this we may know that we are in him: Was Jesus a law-keeper?
Please Stop Saying "Christianity Isn't a Religion, It's a Relationship." | Anchored in Christ
Was Jesus obedient to God's Law!? Of course He was. If then Jesus set this down as an example for us, what makes us think that we can merely claim to love God while diminishing the very Law that shows us how to Love God and which Jesus kept! Furthermore, when we speak about love, love is not about being "lawless," nor is it an open-ended definition that one fills in the blanks with emotions.
To be "loving" is to be obedient to God's Law. How can one love without knowing the definition or parameters for it? How can one love without knowing what love looks like?
Sign of the Cross: Evangelicals see this as a way of spotting a Catholic from a mile away. But this is a very old practice. Christians have been doing it from early times. The theologian Tertullian recorded it in A. We got an email that said: It is retracing where the bishop placed the oil in the form of a cross on your forehead at Confirmation.
The present Sign of the Cross was developed around the time of Nicaea itself to deny the error of Arianism and express belief in the Trinity as the Council of Nicaea defined it. We love it when Evangelicals turn their chairs around, and facing the chair, kneel on the floor, resting their elbows on the chair.
The first time I Hugh saw that at a conference of Evangelical pastors, I thought to myself, "it would be a lot easy for them to just get kneelers. I felt very much at home in this traditional Catholic prayer position. As Catholics we kneel a couple of times during the Mass, including during the prayer of consecration for the Eucharist. Does the Catholic church hold to the "tradition of men"? The Bible addresses two types of "tradition".
If the Church changed to accommodate every cultural upheaval that has occurred over the past years, we'd look like just another contemporary denomination which has its time and then fizzles away. The Church will continue to be faithful to Jesus' commands including to eat his flesh and drink his blood Jn. The Church won't succumb to "traditions of men" that have cropped up in every generation for years.
Here's more information regarding Traditions of men. Isn't a religious system man-made? The dictionary says religion is a "belief or a particular system of religious belief and worship.
Catholics think God is a God of order and therefore is capable of giving us a system of belief. Catholics believe God created the solar "system. Catholics think this is how God is unfolding his plan that is laid out in his Holy Word, the Bible.
Catholics think this "system" is how he guards against thousands of conflicting interpretations of Scripture. Another complaint against Catholicism is that it is a complicated system.
Catholics don't think God is afraid of complex systems. If we watch a dragonfly, we'll soon see how awesomely complicated God is. A quick read through the book of Revelation will also spin our head around.
Religion Vs Relationship With God: 4 Biblical Truths To Know
God is wonderfully complex. The fact that the Church is a "complicated system" is not a testimony against it. Catholics believe the complexity is a testimony for being in favour of it. The eco-system is complicated and it is totally of God. This complexity could be translated to, "rich in depth and width, time and space. Yet a Catholic's relationship with Jesus is intensely simple.
This is a great paradox of Catholicism.
Religion Vs Relationship With God
For the lay personthe Catholic faith is easy to access: Evangelicals would say, "pray to Jesus, read the Bible, meet with other Christians, and join a body of like-minded Christians. Some of the books are great, but some of them are in conflict with each other. In reading all these books we have trouble understanding the Evangelical claim that Catholics are too complicated.
Some of the Evangelical stuff is just as "deep, heady, and complicated. Some Evangelicals may observe Catholics and the way we worship and conclude that we have dead, rote prayers, and aren't being "led by the Spirit". A memorizing process using routine or repetition, often without full attention or comprehension 2.
Mechanical routine While there certainly may be some Catholics who are not praying from the heart at any given time, we don't think this applies only to Catholics.
Rather, this is true for Christians in any denomination. Many people in Evangelical churches raise their hands, speak in tongues or sing worship songs without an engaged heart.
It is not the actions or prayers we do that dictate whether or not we are doing something by rote. It is the state of our heart as we do those actions. The good Catholics that we know love to genuflect because they are honouring the Real Presence of God who is present before them.
When they make the Sign of the Cross they are joining with the early apostles who did this. When they say the "Our Father" they are praying the way Jesus instructed them to pray.
When they kneel they are demonstrating their humility and need of a Saviour. We love the memorized prayer that Lou Engle hasyouth in America and Canada saying: God, end abortion, and send revival to America. Here's a great video about this issue of memorized prayers that Catholics use specifically, the Creed: Hierarchical authority Authority and hierarchy are hard concepts to sell these days. Businesses are adopting horizontal organizational charts.
Kids are swearing at their school teaches and beating them up. The public is pulling apart politicians. Perhaps these are all progressive ideas, but Catholics think this age has authority-phobia. He took us on a biblical tour or the hierarchical and structural authority in the heavens among the angels and heavenly creatures Archangels, Cherubim, Seraphim, etc.
He quoted the Bible chapter and verse to show that Angels only activate under authority, when they are told what to do by their superior. Evans' had a powerful testimony to the Catholic approach to Church, although he perhaps didn't intend it. The heart knows its maker. Which one describes your prayer life?
Your prayer life dies when you become satisfied with religion. Stop going through the motions. You sit there in prayer and you say repetitive words and you know the heart is not right. You cheat yourself out the presence of God. I did my duty. Prayer is not a choir. We have become content with throwing words around. But do I ever pray? And do the wishes of my heart go with the words I say? I may as well kneel down and worship gods of stone, as offer to the living God a prayer of words alone.
For words without the heart the Lord will never hear, nor will He to those lips attend whose prayers are not sincere. Lord teach me what I need, and teach me how to pray; Nor let me ask thy grace, not feeling what I say.
Are you willing to wait for more of His presence? Do you cry out all night to know Him? You say the right words, but is your heart right?
God wants you to understand His love. We often think that God wants us to do something for Him. He wants your relationship with Him to be characterized by love and not duty. Do you have a genuine love for the Lord? I know of many Pharisees who say they know the love of God but they live as if they are in chains. Their life is filled with a false sense of condemnation and hate.
Why live like that? Maybe you are a pastor and you fear the Lord, you obey Him, you do things for Him, you pray to Him, but do you genuinely love Him?