I’ve heard it all my life: It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship. I’ll confess that even as a young man (maybe even a teenager) I couldn’t sort through those words with the same enthusiasm as those who quoted the saying. But now, I’m sorting.
It is about religion. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27 NKJV). God acknowledged a long time ago that to know Him is to plead the cause of the afflicted and needy, in Jesus’ name of course (Jeremiah 22:16). And that’s what James refers to, that is, a defining moment in our worship of God is our watch-care over those in distress. In the old days, they were orphans and widows. Today, they are fatherless children (having either a dead dad or dead-beat dad) and single parent moms, among others.
It is about a relationship. As my pastor recently noted, everyone has a relationship with Jesus. Some of us have a love-love relationship – He loves us and we love Him. Some have a love-hate relationship – He loves them but they hate Him. Not my words. It’s what Jesus said in Matthew 6:24.
But more than anything, it’s all about Lordship. A while back, I heard a friend of mine say that a person doesn’t make Jesus Lord of his life. Jesus is already Lord – of everything (Acts 10:36; Philippians 2:11). Salvation is about confessing Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9-10). Saying that we’re religious or related just isn’t enough. Believing, confessing, and living like He is Lord… now that’s another story.
Religion, relationship, or Lordship? Lordship trumps everything.