I've been reading an interesting article from Relevant magazine over the past couple of days. In it, Jack White (marginally famous musician!!) talks about his faith journey. Here is a quote that summarizes his thoughts:
"I don't much care about man's interpretation of religion. What I care about is what God tells me directly."
This is a very profound statement, and one that I hear many folks declaring in one way, shape or form. The issue with spirituality has always been the dichotomy of religion vs. relationship. Religion has often times been given a bad rap, and in some cases rightfully so. Religion is the attempt of humankind to organize thoughts on spirituality. Most faith structures set up and demonstrate a system that if followed will allow the individual to experience a certain level of control regarding their big unanswered questions such as "what is the meaning of life" and "is this life all there is?" What sets Evangelical Christianity apart from all other religions is its' relational foundation. At the root of what Christianity is, you find the pursuit of relationship, or restored relationship with a Creator God. Unfortunately, the lines of this pursuit can easily become blurred when we add in the human element and desire for structure and organization surrounding this pursuit. The structure, the institution or the organization provides a level of control and security, but it does not and will not provide one with the means to experience purpose, life and hope for the future. Only a relational bond with a spiritual being that exists beyond and outside the boundaries of religion can offer the answers to the questions each of us have.
Religion may focus on who is right and who is wrong, but relationship asks a deeper question. The pursuit of a relational connection with a Creator God assumes that this life is not all there is, and therefore it's not religion that is or should be the focus of our pursuit, but understanding why we are here and what we can do with the time we've been given.
As a Christian, I can identify with Jack White's statement. Where I take my stand on a personal level is believing the Bible to be true, and to be the source of communication through which God does speak to me directly. Structure, organization or any type of institution cannot and will not replace the authority of God's word (the Bible) nor the truth for which it stands. The Bible is clear and teaches that true religion is about relationship with God and with others. This relationship is available to anyone who chooses to believe what the Bible says is true, that God does exist, that Jesus provides the way for us to be relationally connected to Him, and that our life on earth matters. Religion vs. Relationship...which one do you choose?