He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 45: Not Religion, But Relationship
There are two ways to hide from God's love-rebellion and religion. Rebellion, illustrated in the prodigal son, defies God's love and seeks to cover up guilt and shame through the indulgence of sensual desires. Religion, on the other hand, is far more subtle. It seeks its cover-up with good works and obligation. However, like the prodigal's older brother, it still denies the Father's place in our lives and leads us no closer to knowing him for who he really is.
Simply, religion is keeping score-striving for acceptance through our own performance whether it be in our good works or some ritualistic exercise. Those things squarely put the focus on us and what we can do to be accepted by God and all these are doomed to fail.
Most of Paul's letters were written because even the earliest believers found themselves trading relationship for religion. Instead of learning to live in the security of his love they would go back to the traditions, creeds, disciplines and laws as an attempt to earn it themselves. He reminded them over and over again, that God's love would take them further than their own efforts and achievements ever would. But his words often fell on deaf ears then, as they have in generations since.
Why do so many enjoy striving for God's acceptance, even after he went to such lengths to prove it was already ours? Perhaps people feel more secure if they can control the relationship. Perhaps they're afraid that if they no longer have to earn his acceptance they'll find themselves using grace as an excuse to pursue their selfish desires. Perhaps they don't want a relationship with him at all, simply his help in time of need and that coveted "Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free Card."
Religion offers us the illusion of earning acceptance, but it is only a cheap substitute for the reality of life in him. God's desire is to engage us in a life-changing relationship. He knew the 'life-changing' would come only out of the relationship. Thus he demonstrated his love for us before we did anything to make ourselves worthy of it. By doing so, he wanted us to stop trying to earn it and just live in light of it.
What would you do today if you knew God absolutely loved you? God knows the answer to that question will lead you further into his life than the strivings of religion ever can. The key to living a productive Christian life is not waking up every day trying to be loved by God, but waking up in the awareness that you are already his beloved.