Today was a good day in the life of our church. A neighboring congregation joined us for worship and a community outreach event. Good fellowship afterwards, followed by baptisms and a personal testimony. What was shared in this personal story is worth noting here.
A sister conveyed her journey from being religious to walking personally with God. From religiosity with no interest in God, to being able to count on one hand the number of times she’s missed a church service the last three years. From being ambivalent about God’s Word, to thriving in a ladies’ Bible Study. From walking away from church, to church becoming the center of her family’s life. What brings about such a radical change in one’s life? One word: Christ. When Christ enters our lives, He changes everything.
If you are looking for God in “religious” activities, you will not find Him. He is not impressed by rote rituals or religious pietism which denies our absolute dependence on Him. If you seek to charm you way to God through good works, you’ve missed the point. Money, altruistic efforts, socio-economic status, and self-denial never have - and never will - bring you to the good graces of your Creator.
We were not created for rote rituality, we were made for relationship. The Bible talks about walking with God, knowing Him, and being assured of His good pleasure in you. These relational terms convey warmth, fulfillment and connection. When was the last time you thought about God in these terms? The fruit of walking with God is enjoying relationships with others on a similar journey. Going back to our church activities today, it is always nice to have people linger afterwards. Why would even teens want this? Because entering into a relationship with God places you into a family of fellow believers. You actually not only enjoy going to church but you look for opportunities to meaningfully connect with others.
This relationship is established when we come to a critical point, in which we recognize our brokenness and sin before an infinitely holy God. Seizing the gift of eternal life, we believe Jesus died in our place on a cruel cross, and put our full trust in Him as our sin-bearer. As Lord of our lives, He begins to change us from the inside out, transforming our thinking and affections in ways we could never imagine. “Yet to all who received [Jesus], to those who believed in His name, to them He gave the right become children of God…born of God.” John 1:12-13.
If you do not have a personal relationship with God, you can call on Him from the quietness of your heart, trusting Christ as your Savior and Lord. If you are a true Christian and God feels distant, check your heart’s affections. Have you become wrapped up on your daily demands? Have you neglected time with your Savior…in prayer and in His Word? Have you neglected fellowshipping with God’s people…perhaps even allowed a wall between you and others? When we harbor sin in our hearts, we are told God does not hear us. Confess your sins, mend the fences with others, and begin walking again the way God intended: full of joy even in trials, and, strengthened in your faith through your relationship with other believers. To settle for anything less is burdensome and an absolute travesty.