Why do Christians say “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.”? - Deepstash

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Differing Definitions

Differing Definitions

First, there is almost always a differ in the way people viewing ‘religion’ in these interactions. A non-Christian might think:

religion - a set of belief relating to a higher power

Whereas the Christian in this situation is using the term to mean

religion - a set of practices related to God that you have to do to be a part of the group

So this different definition usually slips people up and we end up talking past each other.

To clarify the Christian point, use the 2nd definition. Another way to put this is to say

”Christianity is not religious, it’s relational. Which can look the same sometimes.”


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What Jesus Tells Us

What Jesus Tells Us

Jesus, in Matt 23 has a lot of words to say about the pharisees, religious (Jewish) leaders in Jesus’ time who were full of hypocrisy and failed to being people to God. Instead they did fanciful things or followed religious practices to a T, but they ignored the true nature of following God. They were outwardly righteous but inwardly had no true belief but instead acted like their own authority.

“Woe to you.. Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness;” Matt 23:23

More below



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More Jesus About The Pharisees

More Jesus About The Pharisees

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matt‬ ‭23‬:‭27‬-‭28‬

“therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭3‬


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More Jesus On Religious People

More Jesus On Religious People

“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭20‬:‭46‬-‭47

“And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” ‭‭Matt ‭15‬:‭3


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Even More On Jesus On Religious Leaders

Even More On Jesus On Religious Leaders

“‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” ‭‭Matt ‭15‬:‭8‬-‭9‬

So to give a bit of an explanation with these verses, Christians believe Jesus here is making a claim about how we connect with God. That it’s a heart posture, not a behavioral one. We cannot win God’s approval through how good we look to others or what we do for the church or etc. Our connection to God comes from our heart being for Him and His glory and humbling ourselves.

”whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” 23:12


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Wrapping Up Jesus’ Idea of Religion

Jesus here is not saying to not abide by what people call a religion. He isn’t saying don’t participate in these event. The pharisees were in fact excellent at ‘abiding by’ the laws laid out in the Old Testament (which Christ affirms) so it wouldn’t make sense for Him to try tearing that down. What He is suggesting is that you should not be a hypocrite or heartless and do these actions for the sake of trying to win God’s approval or man’s approval and your motive should be from the heart to love the Lord your God with all of your heart mind and strength. You can’t win over God through actions.


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Old Testament Evidence God Wants Your Heart, Not Perfect Action

Old Testament Evidence God Wants Your Heart, Not Perfect Action

God knows that man is not perfect nor can we be perfect. That means we can’t rely on our behavior and need to rely on something else for salvation from God. However some might say this is a new idea with Jesus and the Jews of the Torah didn’t have the same concept of the ‘from the heart’ belief.

I’d like to express a concept from the OT that I think proves God is looking towards our hearts and that’s the tenth commandment.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife… or anything that is your neighbor’s.” ‭‭Ex‬ ‭20‬:‭17‬

Coveting is only an internal sin.


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Old Testament Leaders Are Saved By Faith, Not Their Works

Old Testament Leaders Are Saved By Faith, Not Their Works

We are also taught that the fathers of the OT weren’t saved by the incredible amount of works they did or how good they might’ve seemed to their neighbor, but by faith. This proves that the Abrahamic religion of Judaism and now Christianity have always been about faith, not committing perfectly to the works of the law (impossible task).

“For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Rom ‭4‬:‭3‬

(Also see Heb 11)

This idea of faith not works goes against ‘religious traditionalism’.

That’s just a tittle of evidence against the ‘religiousness


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New Testament Authors On Heart, Not Show

New Testament Authors On Heart, Not Show

The NT authors seem to believe Christians are all directly connected to God, and that our behavior is a product of reacting to His love for us that He would give us a way to be directly connected and reconciled to Him. We act from the heart in gratitude towards Him and in love for Him. We don’t act to win His favor, which is what Christians will tend to identify as ‘religious’ behavior or mindset.

It would be impossible to do anything to win God’s favor. How would you? Act perfectly according to His law? Good luck. And if you’ve ever broken the law you’re already too far gone. We need saving.


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New Testament Calls Us to Be Genuine

New Testament Calls Us to Be Genuine

“let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.” ‭‭Heb‬ ‭10‬:‭22‬, ‭24‬-‭25‬, ‭34‬


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New Testament Calls Us to Be Genuine Pt. 2

New Testament Calls Us to Be Genuine Pt. 2

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” ‭‭1 Jn‬ ‭1‬:‭6‬-‭7‬

“The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” 1 Jn‬ ‭3‬:‭24‬

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” ‭‭1 Jn‬ ‭4‬:‭15‬


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New Testament Calls Us to Be Genuine Pt.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” ‭‭Jms‬ ‭4‬:‭8

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” ‭‭Ephs ‭2‬:‭19‬-‭22‬


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Our Faith Is About Relationship

Our Faith Is About Relationship

As you can see, even from just a few examples, the New Testament authors, along with Christ, want us to seek God genuinely from the heart, knowing that we’re already loved and saved. We’re not to seek approval from God for what we have done.

“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” Matt‬ ‭7‬:‭22‬

Although what we do pleases God, it’s not to win him over though pleasing Him, but because we love Him that we want to please Him.


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Relational, Not Religious

Relational, Not Religious

Hopefully you’re starting to get the picture. There’s even more to find in the Bible, the Word of God.

Based on how Jesus and the New Testament authors spoke about HOW we are connected to God, we, generally have come to the conclusion that our connection with God is relation, not transactional or a matter of following religious tradition. Not that those are wrong, but they can cloud the true picture of connection with God, which happened also with the Pharisees.

We were made for fellowship with God, earnestly and genuinely.


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Good News

Good News

If you’re not already in relationship with God, then you need to turn to Christ today and abandon the hypocritical religious showing off, or turn away from the sins that are separating you from God. Genuinely turn towards and seek Him and He will not hide from you.

You’re imperfect, as am I and everyone else. This means you have no chance at reconciling your debt to a perfect God unless someone who is perfect has paid the debt for you. There is a person who, because He loved you, paid that debt so he can swap righteousness with you in the face of God.

Read the gospels for yourself and decide!


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“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””


People will often say that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. Lots of times, the reason is to get away from the negative connotation that the word ‘religion’ has (oppressive, strict, closed-minded, hateful, etc.), but there’s more to it than one might think. Let’s get into it.


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