CHRISTIANITY: A RELATIONSHIP NOT A RELIGION

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

“So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:7)

From time immemorial, when God made Adam and Eve ‘in His image and likeness,’ He wanted a relationship.

Religion has been defined as a set of man-made rules and regulations intended to put other human beings under subjection; rules and laws that they themselves do not keep. It comprises of a series of ‘dos and don’ts’ each with a string of penalties for failure to observe or comply strictly by them. It is based on fear and void of any relationship other than that of a master and slave.

From the creation, until the name Christian (the followers of Christ) is first mentioned in Antioch, we see a thread running through, knitting a relationship between the Creator and His creation. In the beginning, the Godhead decided, “Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness ... So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27) This became a reality when He breathed into Adam’s nostrils and the latter became a living creature. The relationship was begun at this point as confirmed when God made one of His usual visits and did not find the couple at the usual meeting place because they were in hiding after having disobeyed Him.

This incident broke God’s heart and it is said that He repented having created human beings. (Genesis 6:7) Even where He had to part company with them, He offered them permanent clothing compared to the leaves they had knit to cover their nakedness. Throughout the account of the Old Testament, we observe how God was angry with the Children of Israel because of their stubbornness but He could not abandon them. They had become the apple of His eye. ‘For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the people on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession.’ (Deuteronomy 7:6) Though in His anger, He punished them, He remained a Father to them from Egypt to Canaan- the Promised Land—nurturing them in His love. He fought battles for them - (the siege of Jericho), provided for them food called ‘manna’ to eat for forty years; water to drink from the Rock (Jesus), secured them from their enemies by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of cloud by night. He appointed able leaders – judges, prophets and kings through whom He directed their destiny -- to lead them. He comforted them, “For I am the Lord God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2) “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3) He promised them land in which to settle after their wanderings in the wilderness and appointed kings to rule over them. With the institution of the Ten Commandments, He taught them to love the Father and show love for their fellow men and women. The entire Old Testament recounts a love story of Jehovah and His chosen people Israel. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b) Jesus affirmed this: “And surely I am with you always until the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

The Old Testament set the stage for the New Testament where the God of Israel would demonstrate His love in a very special way. He elected to send His One and Only Son, Jesus, to save humanity from sin. (Matthew 1:21) The virgin birth prepared the ground for a unique demonstration of God’s love through a humiliating death on a tree; death like that of a criminal. 

Christianity brings a novel dimension to our approach to God, the Creator, where we see Him as our Father and we as His children. This relationship gives us special access to Him. We do not come to Him in fear or trembling. We talk to Him as a child would to his earthly parents. Jesus says our “Father knows what you need before even you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8)

Someone who takes us under His wings for our protection, when we are down, he encourages us; when we fall He lifts us up. (Psalm 40:2) Because of His great mercy and His grace we have access to Him twenty-four seven. His line is never engaged when we call upon Him; he is never busy to the extent that He would not listen to us. Instead, He welcomes us with open arms always. We can cast all our cares on Him, because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7)

When Jesus Himself came to earth, He called us friends – “... if you do what I command.” (John 15:14) Do not think the relationship is estranged when we walk away from Him and go our separate ways. Remember He came to seek and to save those who are lost.  

“”How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” (1John 3:1)

Isn’t it time you started knitting a solid relationship with God and His Son?  “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37)