Religion or Relationship?

by Mandy Johnson on March 26, 2020

You may have heard the saying, "It's not a religion; it's a relationship." But what does that mean? How do you have a relationship with someone you can't see? 

First, you should know that God loves you and wants to be with you (Isaiah 7:14). He doesn't need you. He doesn't merely want to use you. He wants to know you, and he wants you to know him. As you grow closer to him, you'll discover that you were made on purpose for a purpose (Ephesians 2:10), but it all starts with a relationship with him first.

There is a mystery to this relationship with Jesus. Because he's not physically present, it will look different than your relationships with people. There is an element of faith and trust that has to be present—believing that he cares about your needs; believing that he is working things out for your good (Romans 8:28); believing that he will be a very present help in time of need (Psalm 46:1). 

One thing that is the same between your relationship with God and your relationship with people is that both take time. Consistently spending time with God helps to establish a meaningful relationship built upon trust. 

What does spending time with God look like?

Spending time with God can take on many forms, but here are two ways to get started:

Prayer. Prayer is a huge part of our relationship with God, but it can be overwhelming. What's the right way to pray and why do we do it? Does God really hear us, and does it really make a difference? So many times in the Bible we see prayer is not so much about the request, but about our hearts. In the book of James it says that the earnest prayers (sincere, heartfelt prayers) of a righteous person are powerful and produce wonderful results (James 5:16). Honest prayers are the best prayers. Start with an honest, sincere heart and see how God moves.

Reading the Bible. Spending time with God means reading what he's given us — the Bible. You could also read a daily devotional, listen to worship music, or journal. But those minutes you spend doing those things are not just part of a list of to-dos.

The Bible says that God is with us wherever we go. As we go through our day and interact with others, the opportunities and moments to interact with him are endless. He cares about the significant things in our lives, and he cares about the little details, too. Because it's the small moments added up that create our lives. Maybe you aren't sure how to respond to a person or situation in the moment — God can help. If you are at the end of your rope and need a good idea, God can help. Maybe it's noticing the gift of an unnecessary beautiful sunrise. Maybe it's choosing prayer over worry. Whatever it is, our relationship with him isn't just limited to a church service or a few minutes a day. 

Jesus wants to walk this journey with you. He is not bothered by or bored with you. He isn't frustrated or overwhelmed by you. He is attentive, he is listening, and he truly delights in you. He is cheering you on and looks forward to the moments you share with him. Take it day by day, one step at a time, and see how he becomes your friend and refuge. 

Action Step:

Journaling isn't everyone's favorite thing to do, but it's a powerful way to heal our hearts and grow. There are a lot of different ways to journal — it could just be blank pages where you decide what you will write about. Or you could get a journal with daily prompts, a prayer journal to help you stay organized and have a central focus or a gratitude journal. 

Take a moment today to write down your prayers, thoughts about your relationship Jesus, or whatever else is on your mind. Whatever your style or focus is, journaling is a great way to communicate with God and to care for your soul. 

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