Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Religion or Relation

"Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful to society the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one." - Thomas Jefferson

I frequently quote Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson considered himself a "real Christian" and said as much, but he was more like a Deist, in the classical sense of the word. Such stalwart and knowledgeable Christian scholars as the late Dr. D. James Kennedy considered Jefferson as more of what we would today term an atheist than a deist. Yet many of Thomas Jefferson’s' statements indicated that unlike most deists or atheists, he did believe in the Bible, at least as it referenced morals and general principles, as well as the judgment that surely befalls a nation or people who fail to heed its warnings.

Many of the quotes of our founding fathers seem contradictory when placed side by side, but when taken in the perspective of evolving beliefs, one may track their personal struggles within themselves. Pardon the personal reference, but in my own life there was a time that I wasn't a follower of Christ, didn't believe in the Bible and have on many occasions been highly critical of both. Statements I made prior to my conversion are 180 degrees opposite of what I am, profess and believe today notwithstanding even statements I make today, taken out of context may present themselves as conflicting with my profession of faith. As an example, I don't disagree with atheists in many of their conclusions about 'religion.' That's because virtually every religious label has at one time or another brought with it all manner of bondage, death and destruction on humanity...yet I declare myself a Christian, not based ‘religion,’ but rather on a ‘relationship’ to the risen Christ of the Bible. Therefore, that distinction really highlights the difference between 'religion' and 'relationship.' Receiving Christ as ones Messiah, Savior and Lord actually changes everything about us, "...if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" and that includes our parentage, which includes inheritance: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1:12) We’ve been adopted into the Family of God.

For me, and millions of followers of Jesus Christ, that is precisely the distinction. We've been born spiritually (of the Spirit - John 3) in that moment when we invited Jesus Christ into our lives to be our personal Savior and Lord, and are witnessing an extreme change from who we were without Christ, to who we are becoming, in Christ. That is God's desire for you and the very reason that He sent Jesus Christ into this world -

Are you ready for a change? Do you want a new direction, a new vision, and a great outcome for your life? Would you consider inviting Jesus Christ into your life, to be your Messiah, your Savior and your Lord? It may sound cliché, but God really does have a plan for your life - wouldn't it be a shame not to discover that destiny for yourself?
Simply ask Him to forgive your sins and to come into your life, and be your Savior and Lord. Then follow Him and you'll never walk alone.
photo: Sierra Nevada/R. Hoeppner