By Jack Kinsella
The Omega Letter
One can classify all religions into but one of two categories. There is the religion of works; Romanism, Islam, Humanism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, etc - and the 'religion' of Biblical Christianity.
I use the term 'religion' in its broadest possible application so as to include Christianity, although Christianity does not rightly qualify as a 'religion'.
It falls into the second category. Biblical Christianity is not a religion - it is a blood relationship.
"Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you." (John 15:15)What is the difference? By way of analogy, it is unlikely that there are many of our members who are unfamiliar with the late John Wayne.
Most likely, you were fans. (I still can't resist a good John Wayne movie - they don't make 'em like that any more.)
That's what religion is like - like being a John Wayne fan. You can positively love John Wayne and have all of his movies. You can even be the head of John Wayne's fan club.
But you never really knew John Wayne. More importantly, John Wayne didn't know you. You felt you knew him, and you certainly loved him. (I know I did.)
When John Wayne died, I felt I had lost a role model - and even something of a mentor. But I didn't know him. He didn't know me. We didn't have a relationship. We weren't friends.
On the other hand, John Wayne's children knew him and he knew them. The world thought they knew John Wayne, but only his kids knew their Daddy.
All religions are the same in the sense that they are like John Wayne fan clubs (no disrespect intended) - formed along the lines of what they think will make them acceptable to their Deity.
The rituals and rules and admission requirements are as complex as the religion itself - and they are, by and large, rules and requirements that evolved over the centuries.
Put another way, religion is a word that describes man's way of making himself acceptable to his Deity by his works.
On the other hand, Christianity is a relationship with God in which He makes you acceptable by His works.
Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6)One scenario makes you a member of a fan club. The other makes you a member of the family.
"He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it."For some of you, this is a boring Sunday school lesson. For others, it is a sudden and somewhat jarring revelation.
Notice your role in the 'good work' of salvation - you don't do it. You are it.
Religion promises to teach you how to conform to the image of God's Son - according to narrowly defined rules and regulations drawn from various Scriptures.
"For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. " (Romans 8:29)Paul says I will be conformed. The dictionary defines the verb tense of 'conformed' this way - "To bring into agreement or correspondence; make similar."
And Jesus began the good work in me. He will perform that good work. My job is to get out of His way and let Him.
How do I know? The Bible tells me so. Religion tells me different.
Religious Christianity misses the forest entirely, but can identify every individual tree contained in it. They know of God and they know of His Son.
They profess to love God and they profess to love His Son. And they do - after a fashion.
But more often than not, it is love in the sense that I 'loved' John Wayne the actor than in the sense that John Wayne's kids loved their dad.
That is what makes the Christian relationship unique - and it is also what proves it to be true. Man can dream up all kinds of ways in which he would like to be worshipped.
That's why there are so many religions, both inside and outside of organized Christianity.
After all, the natural man is of his father, with whom a genuine relationship also exists: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." - (John 8:44)
While man can dream up all kinds of pomp and circumstance and rules for membership and so on and all that is reflected by religion - it is devoid of relationship.
In a religion, everything is pre-planned and outlined in advance. 'God is this, you are that, you must therefore do this because . . . '
A relationship is unique in that it develops into a relationship as Jesus begins to perform the good work in you of conforming you to His image.
The Omega Letter's mission is not to dazzle anybody with prophetic parlor games so much as it is to equip the saints with answers for the questions that we all encounter in our daily encounters with unbelievers.
The difference between religion and relationship is one I believe is worth having in the ol' toolbox.
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear;" (1 Peter 3:15)
I don't have to constantly wonder if I am saved. I'm not a member of the King's fan club.
I'm a member of the Family.
What does it mean to have a personal relationship with God? - GotQuestions.org
Fast Facts® on False Teachings - Ron Carlson (Book)
Justification and Sanctification - Ariel Ministries (Arnold Fruchtenbaum)
Why Christianity vs Other Faiths - Faith Facts
What makes Christianity unique? - GotQuestions.org