I’m an introvert. I like my alone time. I’m not good at small talk or large groups of people. I wouldn’t say I am good at relationships and rarely instigate one. Christianity is a relationship. Yikes!
I enjoy meditation, and I don’t like to be interrupted. I am not good at being told what to do, even if I am the one who wrote the to-do list. Yes, it’s that bad! So Christianity as a relationship and biblical command is a little hard for me. Religion is more comfortable because of its clear cut as to what should be done. Some of the things we should do are: read our Bible, pray, tell others about Jesus, do good, help the poor, go to church, go to Bible studies, throw in a conference or retreat, and of course, invite the pastor and family to dinner. Then there is a list of other options to show you are a good Christian. Take food to the sick, visit shut-ins, offer help, be on committees, sign up to volunteer—all good things.
The first and greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. (Luke 10:27) That is a lot to think about and seems a little over the top. Mark Batterson says that God/Jesus is either our all in all, or they aren’t God at all.
This is where I am right now. Religion or relationship? Walk in the Spirit or in my own control? Love God through Jesus with all I am or just meditate on it? God made it clear that it is my choice—and there are some things to consider.
One thing to consider is whether we are aligned with God. Doing things our way, trying to impress others with our religiosity, acting like we enjoy serving in whatever capacity with a smile even though we resent washing dishes or vacuuming after a church function is not aligning ourselves with God. My big thing is running ahead of God, assuming I am doing good, so I am kind, but that is not aligning myself with God. I wish that all those years when I thought I was such a great Christian because I did it all, and I did enjoy a lot of it, that God would have said something. And maybe he did, but I was too busy to hear.
So how do we have a relationship with God when we are used to performing for religion? How do we align ourselves with God? God is unchanging, so that helps. We are the only one who needs to change, and He will help us with that.
Graham Cooke suggests starting every day asking God who He wants to be for us today. Yes, God never changes in that He is constant in who He is, but He is a Person with a personality. For instance, if we wake up stressed, God might want to be our peace or our comfort. If we are afraid of events in our life, He might want to be our wisdom. You get the picture. Kat Lee, in her book, Hello Morning, suggests laying our planner, calendar, whatever in front of us and asking God what He wants us to do and then write it in. All that sounds good, but what if I forget? Old habits are hard to break! Well, besides making a decision and maybe posting some visual reminders in places like laying our planner or calendar open, we can write ourselves a note.
I have pray the night before that God would remind me to remember Him before I start “running ahead,” and He does. Gene Edwards, pastor, church planter, and author suggests that we praise God first thing in the morning. He suggests that we start our day saying, “Your love is everlasting” as a way to worship and become God aware. Glad for your morning coffee? Thank you, God, Your love is everlasting. The peace of rain or the beauty of the sunrise? Thank you, God, Your love is everlasting. All these suggestions are a way of starting our day in a relationship with God. I like all 3!
So, as Gene Edwards says in his book, Living by the Highest Life, when our feet hit the floor in the morning, we have a choice. Will we live by the Highest Life, or will we run ahead in our own strength? It’s our choice. One will lead to peace and joy, and one will most likely lead to stress. I am choosing the Spirit or the Highest Life. Besides the peace and joy I think it is freeing. This is the next step in my journey–loving God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind. I will start each day remembering Him and worshiping. It’s the first commandment and the first step to living in relationship instead of religiosity