Number 34 in the series “God Rocks: 101 Amazing Everyday Gifts!” Stories and promises of Jesus that show us the awesome blessings we can experience each day. I hope it encourages you!
I talk often with people turned off by religion. They view it as trying to following a bunch of oppressive rules to impress a God they’re not sure exists. So they really have little interest in it.
Frankly though I see an opposite and more insidious perspective. Religious people who attend services regularly and follow the rules “at least better than most others.” They’d never admit it but they really don’t see a need for God’s grace.
Yet, both miss the relationship with God. No, I’m not making judgment calls about who’s saved and who isn’t. I’m just saying they miss out on the intimate relationship they could have with God and the soul peace that comes out of it.
And frankly, I don’t speak from a distance. I’ve lived both extremes and experienced the emptiness they bring.
This story of Jesus captures it so well. He’s having dinner with a group of people considered outcasts. They weren’t even trying to be religious. Most were considered the dregs. They lived apart from the proper people, religion and God.
The religious leaders criticized him for hanging out with these “people”. I know, hard to imagine.
And Jesus responds, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” (Matthew 9: 12-13 MSG)
Jesus says those who know they need healing are the ones who seek it. Those who know they need forgiveness and grace are the ones who ask for it.
Then he reveals what we’ll find.
First, soul healing. A peace in our souls that simply brings an antidote to the restlessness I’ve felt and I see in so many others.
Second, forgiveness. Occasionally someone has said to me, “I don’t need forgiveness from a God I’m not sure exists.” Yet, we all know the times we’ve failed and hurt others. Often the ones we most love. And until we find that forgiveness we never find peace.
Third, a relationship that’s deeper than any other you’ll ever have. Jesus came to live in relationship with those who feel apart from religion. He delights in it.
Fourth, all of this will go on forever because our relationship with God is forever.
Religion or relationship? The choice is ours.
How have you found a relationship with God apart from religion?
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