Religion or Relationship
We Are The Church
Why “Religion or Relationship”?
The Bible tells us that the Pharisees – who were the religious leaders during the time of Jesus – were lovers of money and that they justified themselves before men, even though God knows the heart. Their religion was a system based on righteousness-by-works, as if there is something that mankind can do of our own power in order to achieve salvation. These Pharisees led people into such a way of thinking and living. They thought more highly about their high position among men that they never recognized the true source of salvation that was right before them. They cared more about their righteous robes than they did the Messiah; Jesus, the Son of the Living God who walked among them. The Word of God was with them – in the flesh – and yet they led the people in shouting “Crucify him!” rather than “Praise him!”
This study, “Religion or Relationship: We Are The Church” focuses on a story told to the Pharisees who were listening to Jesus as he spoke. The Pharisees were sneering at Jesus (meaning they were ridiculing and mocking him). Why? Because Jesus had finished teaching that “no servant can serve two masters” and that “you cannot serve both God and Money” (Luke 16:13 NIV). Why was this cause for the Pharisees to sneer? Simply put, the Pharisees were lovers of money (Luke 16:14). I also think it is vitally important to point out the brilliance of how the NIV translation capitalizes the word “Money” as Jesus speaks. Let’s take a moment to dissect what that means in the next section.
Is Money Evil?
The New International Version translation that I enjoy studying from has always been very specific with it’s usage of capitalization of words. For instance the word “God” as found in Luke 16:13 holds quite a difference from the word “gods” as used in Acts 19:26. The verse in Acts actually explains that as Paul is teaching, he is describing that man-made gods are not gods at all. The Bible is clear to not capitalize the letter “g” in this instance because – as Paul is explaining – their is no Deity to a man-made god. There is only Deity in the one true God, the creator of all heaven and earth. Essentially, the capital “G” indicates complete holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit, which is why reference to “God” is very different than speaking about “gods” that man tries to create.
So what does that have to do with the word “Money” when Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees? Quite simply, Jesus is letting them know that they are putting holiness to something that is not holy. They have put a value to money that is higher than God himself. They have made wealth and assets and “stuff” more exalted than all of heaven and more so, the creator of all things. This is clear then why Jesus specifies that “you cannot serve both God and Money”. He isn’t telling them that it is wrong to have possessions, but there can only be one Lord of your life and, for the Pharisees, they had placed the celebration of earthly possessions as sovereign.
What Does This Mean for Me?
In this video lesson, author and speaker Daniel T. Adams takes a look at religion versus relationship, and the practical aspects of how this looks in our lives today. To have a relationship with the Almighty God, means to recognize and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is what makes us known by God, not just have a knowledge of God. Religion today, much like the fraudulent religion of the Pharisees, can place us into a very similar predicament, even within churches that speak about Jesus, sadly enough. And these are the questions we – as people who claim belief in Jesus – should be asking ourselves:
- Am I more focused on religious duties than I am with my relationship with God?
- Do I live my life by a works-based system, justifying that I can make it into heaven by doing some simple actions? If this were true, than ask yourself this: What can I ever fathom doing that is greater than what Jesus has already done for me on the cross?
- In this COVID-19 pandemic, while churches have been closed, has my time with God diminished? Has it lessened because I haven’t been able to enter a physical building?
- Do I put more reliability and trust into a pastor of a church than I do Jesus?
- Do I need a church building in order to make me an effective and productive overcoming believer in Jesus?
- What am I putting as a priority (whether through time or resources) above my time with God?
- Is making money more important than pleasing God?
If you find yourself struggling with any of the above questions, than I implore you to take time – perhaps today – and get in touch with the God of all creation. The King of kings and the Lord of lords is waiting to hear from you. He’s calling to you? Who will come? Who will see? As long as there is a breath in our bodies, we have hope to turn from the Pharisee view of religion and step into a true and meaningful relationship with the Lord. And when you do, you need not worry about the death that the rich man faced in Luke 16:19-31, for you will be carried away by angels into the presence and glory of God someday. This is hope, beyond anything the world can offer.
Church should not be a religion. Church is more than a building. We Are The Church! Church buildings decay with time. Money will pass away someday. I am not a person who likes to fear-monger, but it is very possible that the current pandemic our world faces today from Coronavirus (or some other catastrophe that could arise) could completely collapse our economy in this world. And if that ever were to happen, what value would money hold then? What importance does the church building have if you do not posses a true and meaningful relationship with God? Let us stop holding to something that will pass away and start storing our treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV).
We Are The Church
If you have been encouraged or inspired by this Food For The Soul sermon, please contact us. Or if you need prayer about something, please do not hesitate to reach out and let me know how I can better serve you. Also, if you know someone who is in need, please share this message with them. You can share it through the website, through social media channels, or even through the Perhaps Today Spotify channel. These resources are free to you to use and share because God’s Word is meant to be shared, and we will share it, because “We are the church!”