RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP
As Jesus was going down the road, he saw Matthew sitting
at his tax collector's booth. "Follow me and be my disciple,"
Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
The Faith community in which I grew up focused on following religious, man-made rules. Contemporary worship music was frowned upon, card games were banned, as were movies and dancing. I could not wear makeup or jewelry and in gym class in school I couldn't participate when the teacher introduced square dancing.
For years I thought that being a good rule follower made me a good Christian. Fortunately, over time Jesus revealed the error in my thinking. When He extended an invitation to someone, He never said, "Come, follow a long list of rules designed to make you a better Christian." Instead He said, "Come, be my disciple. Follow me."
Following religious rules doesn't make us mature believers - it doesn't make us better Christians. The only thing it does is to make us fearful of the consequences for breaking the rules and it makes us judgmental toward those who don't follow them.
But, following Jesus places the emphasis on a relationship with Him - on spending time with Him - on listening to Him when He speaks to us. When friendship with Him becomes our focus, then everything else falls into place.
Here's the funny thing...being Jesus' disciple means we do follow rules, rules that are designed to make us better Christians. But His rules are different than man's. Man-made rules lead to fear and legalism. Christ's rules develop our spiritual maturity and lead us into a close, intimate relationship with Him.
Let us pray:
Blessed Savior, thank you for calling us to follow you - not to follow a list of man-made rules. Following your rules brings us pure joy! Amen.