Relationship or religion?

Following Christ should be deleted from the list of world religions, because it’s not a religion.

Following Jesus cannot be defined by the practice of sacraments. Anyone can practice them. Anyone can confess sins. Anyone can eat bread and drink wine or grape juice, listen to a sermon, fast, pray and study a Bible. And even witch doctors can perform miracles.

None of that has anything to do with following Christ.

Following Christ is a loving relationship between me and Jesus. Between you and Jesus. And between you and me in Jesus. It’s not what we do. What we do is merely a manifestation of who we are. Following Christ is about who we know and grow to know and love more and more deeply and extensively. It’s a living unity. It grows because it’s alive, and growth is what living things do (all living things, of course, except the eyeball[1]).

We don’t eliminate sin from our life to become holy. We eliminate sin to enable us to get nearer to Jesus, because sin cannot even approach him. It’s our nearness to Jesus that changes the way we think, and thereby who we are, as we look into his eyes, hear his voice and feel his presence. We’re like chameleons, conforming our color and pattern to his as we scurry across his shoulder, down his arm, across the back of his hand, onto his lap and stop, sit up and gaze up into his face.

Of course, we’re not chameleons. We’re people he created to be like him, to actually become one with him, as a husband and wife become one. To care for his creations as Adam tended his garden.

Mostly, he created us to know him and, knowing him, to love him in like manner as he loves us.

Why am I writing this post? Because we forget.

Our looking around fills our brain and pushes out our looking up.

From the time we’re born, we develop our ability to see and to notice more with our eyes than with our heart, so we need opportunities to remember the images of God our heart has seen. To strengthen those images. To place them back into our awareness. To clean out some of the daily trivia and the thoughts that stick to us and combine with other thoughts to form ideas that grow into beliefs that squeeze out our looking up.

The voice of religion can be so loud that we forget who God really is. And the world’s noise can make it hard to hear him calling us to him out of the chaos.

Now, more than ever, we need to make time and take time to be with him, to share with him whatever is in our heart and to listen.


[1]   The eyeball is the only organism that is fully grown when we are born. It appears to grow because, when we look at a baby’s face, we see mostly iris and a little white. As we grow, more of our eyeball merely becomes visible.