How ‘It’s Not a Religion, It’s a Relationship’ Is A Religion

by Jared Sparks December 1, 2015

 I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard the phrase "It's not a religion, it's a relationship."

I think it is safe to say that this phrase resonates most with those people who come out of some form of rigid religious environment. It is easy to see why this little mantra would be so popular among people who have been beaten down by religion. But allow me a gentle concern. "It's not a religion, it's a relationship" can easily become another religious ditch to get trapped in.

Unintentionally but still quite often our "relationship with Jesus" becomes more about our feelings or the quality of our spiritual walk. So stop and think about your relationship with Jesus for a moment. Is it good enough? Are you and Jesus as tight as you used to be? Have you spent much time with Him lately? Maybe you and Jesus are really close right now. The relationship seems to be firing on all cylinders. But wait! How good does your relationship with Jesus have to be? Does your relationship with Jesus save you? What if the relationship is not good enough?

I want to encourage you. Don't base your assurance of salvation on your relationship with Jesus. By grace and through faith just simply trust in Jesus alone. The gospel is not "Start having a personal relationship with Jesus." Where is the hope in that? What about the days when it seems like Jesus and I are off? Or how bout those days that Jesus and I feel tight? On those days, my confidence in God's grace can only be as strong as the sandy foundation called my "personal relationship."

No, a personal relationship with Jesus can't save you but Jesus can. The gospel is Jesus substitutionary life, death, and resurrection in the place of sinners to the Glory of God (1 Cor 15:3-4). He saves us! We are always in a relationship with God because we are credited with living the life that Jesus lived. Jesus died for my sin of not having a good enough relationship with Him. Today I can come before my heavenly Father knowing for certain I come as a beloved son. He is not angry with me. If I feel like my relationship with Jesus is bad right now I can look to Jesus and remember it's all about Him. He had the perfect relationship with the Father so I could have a relationship with Him. So I urge you through the power of the Holy Spirit to look to Jesus and away from your "relationship" with Him.

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