Religion versus Relationships
"Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times—speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly—and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church."1
God isn't into religion. He's into relationships. That is, he not only wants us to have a close, loving, warm and intimate relationship with himself but also with each other.
Intimacy, however, can be scary. It means being open, honest and vulnerable—not just with our thoughts and ideas, but much more so with our feelings, failures, and fears—not only with God but with at least one or a few other trusted friends.
What's scary is that if you see me and know me as I really am on the inside, you may not like me. Worse still, if I know me as I really am on the inside, I may not like me either!
However, only to the degree that I am open and honest can I ever be known for who I truly am. Furthermore, only to the degree that I am known, can I ever feel loved. If I wear a mask, you may like my mask, but I will never feel loved because my mask is not me. Only real people can experience real love. And we're not talking about the body-building TV ads that promise real results for real people. These ads are about as phony as they can get. Being real has to do with the inner self and nothing whatsoever to do with the external self.
May God help each of us to be real and become the loving persons he planned for us to be.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that You are not into rigid religion but into loving relationships and that You want a loving, intimate relationship with me. Please help me to be honest with myself, with a few others and most of all with You. Help me to stop pretending and be real and in so doing become more and more like Jesus in every way. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Ephesians 4:15-16 (TLB).