Is Christianity a religion or a relationship?
Before i answer that question, let’s define some terms.
What is religion? A religion is typically seen as something that tells you how to live your life, something that speaks about what happens in the next life based on this life, and is usually synonymous with rules (commands).
What are relationships? A relationship is typically seen as something that involves interacting with another person. You have a relationship with your parents, your siblings, your significant other, your teachers/professors, etc.
So i ask again: is Christianity a relationship or a religion?
The simple answer to this question is: Yes.
The apostle John would agree. Let’s read his words from 1 John 3:23,
“Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us.”
According to this verse, Christianity boils down to two commands. But an interesting facet of these commands is that they are not complicated.
- Believe in Jesus Christ
- Love one another
The simple fact that Christianity contains commands at all means that it is a religion. So we should never try to get ourselves off the hook by saying, “Christianity isn’t a religion; I don’t have to do anything.” False. There are two things you are called to do.
Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
I bring this up because, in Christian doctrine, our problem is the sin that has separated us from God. And an interesting fact about John’s two commands in 1 John 3:23 is that if we followed these two commands perfectly, we would never sin.
These commands are proof that Christianity isn’t just a “well, I believed when I was twelve, so now I can do what I want” situation. Even if you think of Christianity as a relationship (which is accurate), you don’t marry someone and then say, “well, now we’re married, so now I can do whatever I want.” If you did, you’d have significant marital troubles.
The goal of Christianity is to live a Christian life. The purpose of Christianity is to look like Christ to the world. The goal of Christianity is to spread Christianity to the ends of the earth. When we act like the rest of society, we are not representing Christ well.
This is why John gives his two commands in 1 John 3:23. If we believed in Jesus perfectly, we would never sin against God or a fellow human, and if we loved others correctly, we would never sin against a fellow human (and by extension God).
And this is why John commands a church to “believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ.” Because the simple fact of the matter is that we will never perfectly believe in Jesus or love others. And, when we realize we have fallen short, the solution is not to start working through a list of good deeds. The answer is to renew our claim of faith in Jesus. The Christian should “rededicate” his/her life every day because we sin every day.
Have you believed?
Are you believing now?
Do you need to reaffirm your belief in Jesus today?
In this with you.
Solo Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.