Religion vs Relationship
The definition of religion is highly debated especially in a world where there are so many religions that look so different from each other. But, the Oxford Dictionary defines religion as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power.”
The thought of God as a ‘superhuman controlling power’ doesn’t seem quite right to me. Sure, God does have control and power that exceeds human capabilities but this doesn’t sound like my God.
Firstly, I wouldn’t call God controlling, he gives us choice in the way we live our lives including whether we choose to follow him or not. Having a choice brings us closer to God if we make the decision to follow him as it creates a relationship.
Google’s definition of a relationship is, “the way in which two or more people or things are connected.” If God controlled the way we live and forced us to worship him, it couldn’t be a relationship as there is no true connection, only mindless control.
God calls himself our Father. He establishes a familial relationship.
Christianity is so much more than the belief in God. It is the belief that Jesus died for our sins and the commitment to love God and love everyone around us. ‘Superhuman’ is not a way that I would describe God.
Despite Gods ‘superhuman’ powers, the fact that God came down to earth as a human in the form of Jesus, I believe, rules the idea of God being so distant from humanness out. God sending Jesus to earth was uniting the divine with humans and destroying the barrier between God and us, instead, God lives in us.
The destruction of religious laws
In a religion driven Christianity, rules are a strong basis and requirement of being a ‘good Christian’, despite Jesus himself discounting the importance of solely focusing on these rules.
One of the Ten Commandments includes resting on the Sabbath day and doing no work. The Pharisees followed this rule and when Jesus healed a man with a shrivelled hand on the Sabbath, they were quick to accuse Jesus.
Yet Jesus said, Jesus ignores the commandments in order to do good.
This idea can be developed as Jesus teaches us to, .
This isn’t Jesus telling us to go and do whatever we want but instead to re-evaluate the way we follow the commandments.
The commandments mostly fall under loving the Lord and your neighbour already, stealing is not showing love to your neighbour, saying the Lord's name in vain is not showing love to the Lord, so the commandments do remain relevant in most situations.
Overall we need to re-evaluate the way in which we follow the rules of God. Are we too focused on blindly following rules instead of doing the true works of God and loving people through everything we do?
We need to listen to God and what he is leading us to do in a situation through having a relationship with him rather than just following a religion strictly based on rules. instead of the desire to love God and his people.
Changing the Christian perspective
As Christians, we can only truly thrive within our faith when we can minimize the emphasis on the guilt-inducing laws of the Old Testament which have been made redundant with Christ’s death on the cross and instead focus on our true purpose of loving one another, and Christ, fully.
This includes forgiving others for their sins against you and not judging other Christians choices or lifestyles. As CS Lewis believes,
Jesus’ sacrifice gave us the ability to connect with God without the barrier of sin, allowing us to have a full, unhindered relationship with him. Who are we to deny the power of Christ’s sacrifice and still believe that we can be hindered by sin within our relationship with God?
As Christians, we must focus on our true purpose of loving everyone with the love that God first showed us rather than focusing on the guilt of being unable to live a sinless life that we have already been forgiven for living.
Overall, we must focus on building a relationship with God instead of focusing on rules and religion to fully connect with God and his purpose for us.
Olivia Reid studies criminology and media at The University of Auckland. She’s passionate about writing to better understand and communicate with God. She would love to hear your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.