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Relationship Not Religion

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Relationship Not Religion - Jason Umidi

As humans we long to be in authentic relationship with others. Our spirits hunger for this sustenance. We long to be known. To be loved and pursued despite our faults and shortcomings, is the reprieve that our souls crave. For some, that’s a loving spouse, or the bond that we have with our children. For others it’s friendships with those who share our worldview. Some feel connected to God’s creation, so the harmony one finds with the earth is meaningful. All of these connections are wonderful and reflect the nature of who we are. We were created to be in relationship and it’s in these relationships that we are defined.

Since the age of reason, we sense there is a void within us which needs to be filled. Over the years we may have tried to quench this thirst with “stuff”, only to be left wanting. I believe that no matter what journey we’re on, these voids cry out for more, and yet they can remain unsatisfied. I like what John 6:35 (ESV) says, “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” The truth is, I’ve known this longing of the soul where my spirit felt hollow and my addictions left me deprived.

The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (ESV)

Relationship with Addiction:

As I reflect on the drinking years, I was deceived in believing that my drinking wasn’t hurting anyone. Despite knowing who Jesus was, I was not experiencing this abundant life that scripture talks about. I was being robbed of the life that I was meant to live and my addictions were fueling my desperate attempts to remain in control.

I still remember that cold day in January, 2017, when I checked into detox. The emptiness I felt was palpable as I sat alone in the parking lot. I had imagined this day many times over the years, and felt this action step was all about what I was losing. I couldn’t comprehend a life without alcohol and opioids. But I had it backwards. This was a choice about gaining new life! A different perspective to be seen through new eyes-without the scales of addiction obscuring the path before me.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

Relationship with Christ:

There is such majesty in this verse if we are able to receive it like a child. When we tell a child we love them, they immediately understand this love as a deep affection. Do they review in their minds a list of qualifications they have achieved in order to be told they are loved? No. A child trusts in what the parent has just told them. Scripture says in Matthew 18:3 (NIV), “And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” The child referred to in this verse, is humble and believes wholeheartedly. In humility and with faith believe what the Lord says in His word.

Relationship Blocker is Pride:

Pride, on the other hand, is one of the greatest spiritual failings that will prevent us from knowing the Father. Religion leads us to believe that we can earn God’s love. That we don’t need Jesus per se, but only to live a good life, follow some rules, and don’t hurt anyone; surely God will love me for that and give me eternal life, right? Unfortunately, one can find plenty of this type of religion on any given Sunday but listen to what John 14:6 says.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NIV)

From the fall of Adam, God knew we needed a savior. As a result of Adam’s sin, all of mankind has been born into sin and this inherent sin separates us from God. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 (NIV), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It’s out of God’s love for us, that He sent a redeemer, His son Jesus, to be the propitiation of our sins. Jesus lived the perfect life, fulfilling the law and the prophets (what we call the Old Testament), and by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, to give eternal life to anyone who believes in Him. How does one find eternal life? Like the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom, we find in Romans 10:9 (NIV), this requirement, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Simple child-like faith is all that is required. Forget about man’s attempts to appropriate religion for influence and selfish gains. Be a believer in Jesus!

Believing Begins a Relationship with Christ:

Belief in Jesus is just the beginning. He desires that we pursue him every day and that we walk in the light as he is in the light. We were created in God’s image to be in relationship with Him. We are special in that we are the only creation that has innate value. We are God’s masterpiece.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me.” John 14:4(NIV)
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

What is relationship with Jesus?

Jesus will never force himself on us; He waits patiently for us until we give him permission to enter in. An authentic relationship is built on trust, communication, sacrifice, and love. Once in relationship with Jesus, we become one with the creator of the universe! 1 John 4:16 (ESV) says, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God and God abides in Him.”

Come as you are, the good, the bad and the ugly, Jesus accepts everyone.”

Jesus Waits for a Relationship:

Come as you are, the good the bad and the ugly, Jesus accepts everyone. How great is this? I’ve said this before about my own experience; you don’t have to have this God thing figured out to receive the love and forgiveness your soul desires. The truth (as I’m experiencing it), tells me that God is good and merciful, full of compassion for all his children. He’s ready to restore you, to redeem you, He’s called you by name and you are His. Hear the still small voice of the Spirit within you and respond to this love. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” John 15:13 (NIV).


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