Robert was sitting on the exam table and telling me about his experience with another doctor.
“You know, I was in Dr. Schlecter’s office and he said to me, ‘Robert, you may be the most religious person I’ve ever met.’
I then said to him, ‘Let me ask you something, doc. In all my conversations with you have I ever mentioned the word religion?’
After thinking a minute, he said, ‘I guess you haven’t.’
‘I’ve just been talking about Jesus. It’s not about religion; it’s about relationship.’”
Religion or relationship?
When I do church, is it about religion or relationship?
When I do my daily devotions, is it about religion or relationship?
When I try to share the gospel, is it about religion or relationship?
What’s the difference?
Religion is about performing actions that might bring others and us into the presence of God.
Relationship is that presence.
Religion is valuable as methodology.
Relationship is the method’s goal.
When I train young doctors, I often mention the four legitimate goals of therapy: cure, prolongation of survival, quality in life and prevention of suffering.
All therapeutics must lead toward one of these goals or they are wasted.
Just so with religion: unless our religion leads us to a true relationship with God, it is wasted.
Just so with our worship experience, our Bible studies, our sacraments: unless they bring us into the presence of God, they are of little value.
Just so with our witness and service opportunities: unless they lead others toward an encounter with the Father, they are medicines in search of a therapeutic goal.
God does not set us here first of all to preach or to do work for him. The first thing for which he sets us here is to create in others a hunger for himself.
Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life
Bring me into your presence. Let my religion draw me and those I touch closer to you