Bible Baptist Church Mattoon, IL

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Relationship or Religion

Posted On: March 12, 2015 • Author: Pastor David Bousquet • Category: Articles

In continuing my posts about the substance of Christianity, whether it is a relationship or a religion, it is important to focus on the focus of each concept.

Those who seem to hold the closest to the Christianity is a relationship format like to emphasize the individualist aspects of their “relationship”. Quite often it seems that it can be used as an excuse for several things. First, I have seen it used as an excuse for isolation. When Christianity becomes a personal relationship, then no one else is able to criticize, critique, or judge how one expresses his own relationship. After all my relationship is personal with convictions, standards, and beliefs that fit my way of life. This concept may lead to the individual withdrawing from the church and worshiping at home alone. After all, we don’t need anyone other than the Holy Spirit to teach us, right? This is in direct conflict with the teachings of the New Testament, which specifically states that we are not to forsake the assembly of ourselves together. We need to become unified through community and not isolated through individualism.

Second, the concept of isolation through relationship ends up separating the believer from needed accountability. Within the concept of a religion is the foundation of a group worshiping together, and helping each other through encouragement to live according to the common faith. The isolation and self focus of a relationship can result in the individual stagnating his spiritual growth because there is no challenge or motivation to remove sin. When we are living our Christianity alone, we can easily justify our own actions, because we have no one that we are physically accountable to. Community provides restraint and correction, which the individual relationship concept will never be able to duplicate.

Finally, the isolation of the individual relationship format can easily lead to the Elijah syndrome. Remember the weary prophet proclaimed that he was the only one left serving God, but God reminded him that there were many who still were faithful in their service to Him. In other words, the relationship format easily leads one into the my spiritual path is the only real right spiritual path, therefore, I am more spiritual than anyone else attitude. A community religion combats this through mutual confession of faults and sins, which binds the group closer together while revealing the equal need for the God’s strength and help. Relationship alone leads to depression, defeat, and discouragement; while Religion provides comfort, community, encouragement, and strength.

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