“Religion is an attempt to externally conform your behavior to some code of conduct, set of rules or the practice of rituals. Religion attempts to make you clean from the outside in. A relationship with God changes you from the inside out.” – Pastor Dale O’Shields.
Its important to realize that Jesus didn’t make very many “religious” friends. They often to came to Him with loaded questions regarding the law in order to ensnare him but they never succeeded. These people had taken what was holy and worshiped the law rather than the creator of the law. If they truly knew the creator they would’ve recognized Jesus for who he was.
Keeping these thoughts in our mind we have to ask ourselves, what does it mean to be a Christian? A person who claims to be a Christian is in a unique place then any other. Having a relationship with God first and foremost they bypass all the legalism of religion. Religion doesn’t clean us but shows us how dirty we are.
If that is so, what is a relationship with God? A relationship with God is something that changes us at the heart level. When we “come in contact” with God we begin to think, act, and behave differently. We find ourselves desiring things we never once did or could. We begin to seek in Him in all we do and we thirst night and day for his presence in our lives. Not only that but we communicate with Him almost as much as we think; making every thought a prayer.
So how do you know your a Christian? If your faith is in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again. If your life has changed as a result and his Spirit lives in you, teaching, convicting, and empowering you to live as God has chosen.
Please realize that if God truly lives and exists, as he does, then anything we do for Him is not out of religion but out of truth. Every other religion attempts to “get” to the “gods,” but ours was the first and only one to come down to us. Christianity has two faces; the religion and the relationship with God. Please don’t think they are the same thing because the difference between the two makes all the importance in the world. Exhaust yourselves looking for Christ and he will come to you, but don’t get caught up in “religion,” because Christ didn’t come to establish the “Christian” religion, he came to make a way for me and you to connect personally with God himself.