Religion vs Relationship with God - Is there a difference?

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Religion vs Relationship: Is there a difference?

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Every time I tell someone I’m a Christian, their first statement is usually along the lines of “..so you’re religious.” My response is typically “Well, what do you consider religious?” People tend to equate religion with being religious, but they’re actually very different.

It’s no secret that there are several different religions throughout the world. There’s atheism (yes, that’s a religion), Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, and several others. What’s the difference? They have different beliefs. Boom. What’s religion? A system of beliefs. Atheists have no belief in God, for example, whereas Christian’s do.

When people would ask me if I was religious, I used to struggle with how to respond. I knew that the gist of my answer was no, but I wasn’t sure how to explain that without being confusing.

God is not about religion. Religion is a structure that should house our faith in God. Too often it is used to hurt other people in God’s name.

Betty Eadie

Read that again.

Religion has been around for a very long time. As time passed, more and more religions came about. As I said before, the differences between those religions is their beliefs. So many religions today are trying to reach God through actions and rules. Some of these rules that you may have seen or heard of include: not allowed to eat certain foods, requirement of certain rituals, earning salvation through good deeds, and many more. Rules such as those take away from the real meaning of being a Christian, the real meaning of having faith and God. As a Christian, I can say that I’m not religious because Christianity is about God reaching down to man; He already did the work.

Yes, I am a Christian. No, I am NOT religious.

This past Sunday my pastor spoke about religion, and he explained it so well that I finally knew how to respond when asked if I’m religious.

He said that religion is outward; it is the things you do to appear more righteous and be right with God. However, what you put on the outward really doesn’t mean anything, it’s what’s on the inside.

Think about it: how many times do we see people post about their vacation or major life events on social media? We portray our lives as being so awesome when on the inside we really may be hurting. The same can be applied to Christians. There are plenty of Christians who do this, or do that and focus on how they appear to be on the outside. But that’s not what Christianity is about. It’s not about how much you give as an offering, nor is it about the clothes that you wear. It’s not about the things that we do, but about the heart that we have towards God and others.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God….you are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News, but it not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

Galatians 1:6-7

Jesus is the opposite of religion. He’s a relationship.

Revelation 3:20 says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

He does not force Himself on people – not even the church. Instead, He waits patiently; He stands at the door and knocks. He wants to have a relationship, not a system of rules. Christianity is centered around having a personal relationship with Him. God already did the work for us (by sending His Son), so we do not have to worry about “being right with God” and following strict rules.

One last thing, as I said before, this topic has been on my mind for quite some time now. But even more so when my pastor touched on this topic at church. And, no joke, as I was writing this I stopped and scrolled through Facebook. While doing so, I saw that a friend had shared a post from hopecarpenter.com which said – “God is not a religion, He is a relationship.” I don’t believe in coincidences.

If you’re even remotely interested in what I’ve written here, check out this Youtube video by Jefferson Bethke. It is a Spoken Word titled, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” One of the lines he says is ” [Religion] tell[s] single moms God doesn’t love them if they’ve ever had a divorce…it’s just behavior modification, like a list of long chores.” Yeah, check it out here.

Want to see more about my walk with God? Check out my post, Letters to God, to read more about struggles I’ve had in my faith.

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  1. Tay says:

    ??????????

  2. Justin Cozzetti says:

    Beautifully written! This blog really explains so well the difference between religion and relationship

  3. Ya says:

    So many people have Christians all wrong some because of their experience with the church and some because of misunderstanding. Relationships are intimate, purposeful, and engaging having that with Jesus Our Lord and Saviour opens the door to freedom, learning, growing, peace and eternal life.

    • Ariel Richard says:

      Exactly! And unfortunately, because of those bad experiences that they may have had, church is the last place they’d want to go!

  4. Shubha says:

    Very well written post.

  5. Nikkita says:

    Amen! I love this, Christians can often forget that Jesus is all about relationship and our heart. So amazing to serve a God who wants a relationship with me and us all! Great post!

  6. I loved the title most! And the way you have portrayed the relationship and not as religion. That’s encouraging me to express more on the relationship I have with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The way I am witnessing His love and grace through my journey!

    • Ariel Richard says:

      Thank you! When I started looking into the differences between the many religions in this world, the fact that Christianity focuses on a relationship is really what stood out the most. It’s encouraged me to develop a deeper relationship too! I’m glad you enjoyed this post!

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GARLIC OBSESSED, ENNEAGRAM 1W9, CHRONIC PERFECTIONIST, JESUS LOVER.

Hi, I'm Ariel.
Your Hype Girl +  Self Awareness Coach.

I'm a Starbucks lover, fizz dealer, master chef, creative baker, worship leader, dog mama, crisis counselor, cheese connoisseur, and passionate writer.

I've never been one to limit myself to a single title, and you shouldn't either. I bet you're more than a daughter, more than your age, and more than your job.

When I was in college, I noticed people around me lacked vision for their lives. They felt so restricted by society's expectations that they weren't living according to their own passions. And I wanted to help.

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