Monday, February 24, 2014

Religion or Relationship

Recently I was thinking about how many times in life our assumptions, traditions and even things we've grown up believing can sidetrack us from embracing the truths of why Jesus came to this earth.

I know for me there have been times in my life where I said the right things, did the right actions, prayed the right prayers and went to the right church service but my heart was far from what my actions were conveying.

One of the things that Jesus came to do was replace rules with relationship, and if I'm honest sometimes keeping the rules is much easier than being in relationship.

With rules it's straightforward and cut & dry. With relationship though, true sacrifice and devotion for my Savior who is my number one priority is what I want to bring because of what He did for me. Not in a robotic "must repay to earn Savior's love" kind of way but in a "He did that for me? No Way! Wow! You gotta be kidding me! How could I not worship Him and live my life for Him?" Kind of way.

So, as I'm thinking and praying about how many times our assumptions and beliefs shape and ultimately drive our actions, I was reminded of a time when I entered a 10 mile road race and then on race day didn’t show up.

Yep, you heard me right, it was 1989, and I was 21 years old, serving as a Youth Pastor intern in Flint, Michigan.

It had been a great summer of ministry and it was beginning to wind down. All summer long I had heard about how some people from the church were training to run in the 10 Mile Crim Road Race that was sponsored by Buick.

Apparently it was a big deal, and in my zeal to belong, be liked and be respected I foolishly shelled out the dough to purchase the number that registered me in the big race.

The only problem though is that I'm about as far from a runner as you can be. In fact, I hate running, I'm terrible at it and I get tired very easily!

 When I was in junior high I tried out for the school soccer team and literally asked the coach "what position can I play where I don't have to run much?" He said..."goalie" Guess what position I played until I graduated?

 So, the day came to run the race, I was registered but didn't show, I paid my money, got my number but didn't even though when I got back to college that following fall and told all my buddies about my great intern experience when it came time to show them my Crim road race number I could only tell the story from an observer's point of view, not a participant's point of view.

 I think sometimes an assumption that causes us to miss what Jesus came to do is one that says; "as long as I go to church, pay my tithe, say the right things and be good" I'll be all set.

 I've seen that mindset many times over the years, and as I look at this road race number that I paid my hard earned cash to get, it's about like that assumption for a person who thinks they can just obey the rules and God is good with that.

In order to be a runner in the Crim road race I needed to show up and order to be a follower of Jesus I need to accept the free gift that Jesus gives (my analogy breaks down here for sure, because I had to purchase my road race number on a summer intern's salary at that...what was I thinking?) and start the race with my Savior leading the way.

I believe that Jesus was very purposeful in what He did on this earth, and I'm so glad that because of what He did I can finally be a runner (at least in the Christian life.)

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