God is not religious and neither did Jesus come to start an organisation. Jesus came from another realm in order to reveal the living God amongst people and to make known our ‘calling’ [Ephesians 4:1]. In other words, He came to show us how to live life in sync with our heavenly Father. This statement needs to be carved on our hearts. In my opinion, religion is one of the most insidious barriers to the experience of resurrection life within the Church today for all believers. When we dress God up in religious clothing and hope to see lives changed and transformed and outsiders coming into the Kingdom we are running aimlessly.

We have been wonderfully set free to live the lifestyle of discipleship because Jesus has made this possible. He always leads the way. If we can grasp the reality of knowing God’s exotic love in the fullness of all its dimensions our lives will be changed forever. And, we will experience deep fulfilment because of His calling upon our lives. We must not confuse religion and life. These two sit at opposite ends of a very long table.

Our God is deeply and profoundly relational, experientially knowable, life-giving, actively gracious, full of kindness and He calls us to walk and live within the simplicity of His daily presence. Unlike religion, the Jesus way is an active participation in His personal life. The facade of religious obligation must be rejected and the centrality of Jesus restored within our lives and His Church. Jesus fully reveals God the Father and our calling is to know Him – intimately. Let us ponder that for a moment.

Hilary of Poitiers taught that every Christian must be constantly vigilant against what he called a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for Him. [1]

God Interrupts Our Lives because He Loves Us

Many disciples of Jesus are much like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal son. The Lord has interrupted their lives with a change that they cannot quite come to terms with. Their regulated and default religious mindset is not dealing well with the inner turmoil they are experiencing. So, what do they do? The elder brother complained to his father, “I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.”  [2] There is no grace in slavery. Our commitment to everything ‘Christian’ may be unstinting. Our dependence upon teachings and programmes have left us feeling empty.

If our hearts have become crusted and slightly hardened by religion and dogma let us turn to the Lord and be restored. If we have become slaves to routine, listless through mindless drifting and the words of Jesus which were once fresh and life-giving have lost their power in our lives we can turn to Him and experience His loving care. “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.” I am convinced this is for you.

The Father’s Words bring Life

The father speaks life to his older son. “My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Our heavenly Father wants us to drink deeply of the reality of those words right now. This is our calling. Think and pray these words of life. “You are always with me and everything I have is yours! ” These are the life-giving words of a loving Father who longs to spend time with you. You may be reading this and have been a follower of Jesus for ten, twenty or even thirty years. But, it has been hard work. And, like the older brother you have to confess, “All these years I’ve been slaving for you.

To restore the pure life-flow between you and Him act now. He desires your time and to be uppermost in your thoughts. Jesus longs to care for you when we are unable to cope and to be central to all of your plans and activities. He wants to be your life. That, dear friend, is the story of God’s redeeming life.

It is time for us to ask our heavenly Father to break the bonds of religious obligation and the burden of slavery. He wants to fill us with courage and resurrection life each day. Let us today say yes to Him without hesitation, in order to take the next step He is calling you to. Freedom, a light yoke and Jesus’ perspective on life.

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

Have you noticed that in John’s Gospel the author describes himself in those terms on five separate occasions? “The disciple whom Jesus loved.” [3] What a beautiful way to describe yourself. John obviously knew that Jesus loved him and declared it unashamedly. We can know that too. You are loved no more and no less than John by Jesus. Set your heart to live freely in the freedom that our God provides. He is not religious. Set your heart to live free from the perception of a religious god, and enjoy the beautiful relationship and fellowship as the disciple whom Jesus loves.

 

 

[1] Quote – The Word and the Work – G.A. Studdert-Kennedy  [2] Luke 15:29 NIV  [3]  John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7,20.