Over the years I've spoken with unbelievers many times. However there is a question they often ask me and I'm not sure how to answer it. "Are you religious?" I feel like saying No, religion is full of rituals used to try and reach some far off 'god'. I am a believer in Jesus, I have a relationship with Him. How would you answer this question?
Being religious is often understand as a set of propositions one must believe and of rituals and cultural markers that must be observed. I don't strive to be religious. Faith alone in Jesus Christ is the key that opens the door to God's kingdom and eternal life. Faith isn't passive; it's not just belief in God or attending church on Sundays. It's an active and persistent desire to direct our lives toward God in tangible ways. Faith is a grace-filled and ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ that's active, persistent, and lived out tangibly in the world. Persistent faith, not religious ritual observance, moves us ever closer to God. I won't settle for anything less than a deep and abiding faith in the Lord, a faith that is alive and lived out in God’s world.
No, I'm a Christian.
That will lead them to ask what's the difference and then you can explain it. The Pharisees were religious, and yet they're the ones who persecuted Christ.
It's a very difficult question to answer because the 'world' so to speak equates faith with religion or being 'religious'.
I'm learning to ask them to first clarify what they mean by 'religious'. People are generally careless with words many times (including myself), and don't really think before speaking. James 1:19 reminds us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.
It's important to remember it's an honest question, and people just really misunderstand the true nature of Christianity and what it means to be a Christian. It does give a beautiful opening to proclaim the gospel to them as we ask them questions and answer their questions gently and respectfully.
This topic will come out in my message Sunday. If the recorder does not fail I will post it here shortly there after.
I will put this much here for now:
Food for thought:
There is a great error perpetuated in the church today.
Christianity is not a religion it is about relationship.
Christianity is not all about relationship.
Christianity involves not only walking with God, we are to walk in alignment with Him and His Word.
Christianity is about a transformed life and that life both loves Jesus and seeks to please Him through the way we live. To say we love Him and then ignore His teachings is to live a lie.
Joh 14:12-26 NIV84 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (13) And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. (14) You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (15) "If you love me, you will obey what I command. (16) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- (17) the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (18) I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (19) Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (20) On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (21) Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (22) Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" (23) Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (24) He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (25) "All this I have spoken while still with you. (26) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
To some this will appear legalistic. Legalism puts the emphasis on the "do" in order to "get." Christianity puts the emphasis on Christ and the desire to please Him in all that we do because we love Him and have been changed by Him.
I reply," I use to be, now I'm a Christian".
I say that only because it solicits the obvious question and tends to start a nice conversation.
I just say no, I'm a Christian
I anyways just tell them I am a Christian, and if they hang around. I tell them about the gospel. They get born again or run the other way at the name of Jesus.
Eyes Wide Open - Genesis 3
This messages addresses the question of being religious vs. relationship. It is a little long, but posted here if anyone wants to listen.