Relationship not Rules
The Pharisees were real sticklers for rules. They loved them. They loved to keep them. In fact they almost worshipped them, as they thought that following rules would please God & save them. When God appeared on earth in the person of Jesus they were in for an unpleasant surprise. He challenged their reliance on rules, and mindless ritual. It’s so easy for us to think that we just need to follow certain rules in order to be right with God.
‘God doesn’t accept people simply because they obey the Law. No, indeed! All the Law does is to point out our sin.’ – Romans 3:20 CEV
The Pharisees created so many rules about every aspect of life that it was practically impossible to keep them all. The desire of the Pharisees to follow all those rules emptied them of their relationship with God. They focussed on rule-keeping, not on God. When you practice religion, your relationship with God is degraded to a mathematical formula. Do this, then do this, don’t do that, and hey presto… you are right in the eyes of God. That is totally missing the point! God wants so much more. He wants to have a real relationship with you. He wants to show his love to you and He wants you to love Him.
If you knew that behaving in a certain way was going to mean that you upset or offended a good friend, you’d think twice about doing it, and probably decide against it. You certainly would if you valued your relationship with them. How we choose to live our lives must come from a desire to please God and to be in a good relationship with Him – not from an odd desire to keep to a set of rules. The best way to know what someone likes (whether that’s God, parents or friends) is to spend time with them and get to know them. In order to get to know someone and build a deep relationship we have to spend quality time together.
Religion vs. Christianity
Religion is man trying to reach up to God. The message of Christianity is God reaching down to man. Religion is about what man has to do to be right with God. Christianity is about what God has already done to provide us the opportunity to be right with Him.
Jesus doesn’t want you to follow a set of rules; He wants you to be in a real, deep relationship with Him. That means spending quality time together, and prioritising that time over other things. As you get to know Him better, you’ll become more like Him and you’ll know much more clearly how He wants you to live. And you can be sure that He doesn’t have a check-list for you to follow…
– have I confused relationship with Jesus with a set of rules I’m expected to follow?
– what do I need to do to develop a real relationship with Jesus?
– are there aspects of my life that offend or upset Jesus?
– how can I put them right?
Lord Jesus, make me more like You.
Let me know what you expect of me,
And help me to live in a way which pleases You.