Inside: Religion doesn’t save and religion didn’t help when I was going through difficult seasons. I was missing a personal relationship with Jesus.
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I grew up going to a Christian grade school and high school. All through both schools, I learned memory work which included passages, creeds, and articles. I could spew them out like nobody’s business.
Every week, I attended church, but in light of all the “stuff” I knew, I didn’t know Jesus.
Once I was out in barren lands, my creeds and articles really didn’t help me. I didn’t have a genuine faith.
I had religion, but I was missing the relationship.
Putting things into memory can many times, leave out the internalization part.
Head knowledge is great, but the Bible needs us to stick it into our hearts.
When my life was going well, I was fine. A hard hit in the backcountry was another story.
Even with all that time I had spent putting passages into my head, I needed to start at ground zero with a relationship with Jesus.
In the past, I had wanted God to act a certain way. He had, in my mind, acted correctly for all those years until I hit a rough patch. Now, I wanted Him to do something.
I selfishly admit I treated God like a puppet or even a toy. My story was created the way I wanted it to. God was a great distance from me, and I might interact with Him a little at church.
As I was preparing this, I kept thinking over and over about how I was just like the Pharisee.
I kept all the “laws” I had learned, but I never took the time, or desire to get to know Jesus, Intimately and personally.
I was a big old hypocrite.
My outside appearance was always on point, but my heart was a huge mess.
That heart of mine, it was aching. I thought it wanted something more of the world, but it was actually aching for Jesus.
Here’s what religion taught me:
- Look at outside, but hide the inside.
- I should be concerned what other’s thought.
- Demand others uphold certain things, but then I duck out myself.
- Focus on the past, not the present.
I had never really paid attention to the Pharisee Nicodemus before until I looked back on my past actions. The wilderness really revealed my Christian living.
Nicodemus was part of the Pharisees, and also a member of the Sanhedrin. These guys knew their Bible trivia inside and out. They were considered the really religious guys.
The Pharisees didn’t like Jesus because He crippled their authority and tested their views.
Nick was different, this Jesus guy pulled at his heart.
Religion started to feel a little hollow, so Nick had to reach out and form a relationship with Jesus. Nick was scared and didn’t want to be fear-mongered by his Pharisee friends, so he sought out Jesus at night.
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again” (John 3:3-4, NLT).
What can we learn from Nick?
- Come to Jesus personally. We can’t believe our parent’s faith or even our “religion’s faith.” We need a personal faith.
- Study Jesus for ourselves. We need to be personally convicted, our religion can’t do it for us.
- We need to deal with our insides, our outsides won’t get us to Heaven.
- Bible knowledge isn’t heart-knowledge.
Here’s the deal, God wants a personal relationship with us.
An honest, ever-growing connection. He demands genuine faith and obedience.
Religion might get us to confess and repent, but are we doing it because it’s been taught, or are we doing it because Jesus moves us?
Are we faithfully going to church on Sundays, or are we desiring more of God’s presence daily?
Are you looking for help to endure this season? Here’s the secret:
Knowing Jesus in an intimate way spurs me on to practice a religion based on the personal Jesus of the Bible.
Finding I AM – Bible Study Book: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your HeartI Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He IsFiercehearted: Live Fully, Love BravelyGirls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a HeroLioness Arising: Wake Up and Change Your WorldWithout Rival: Embrace Your Identity and Purpose in an Age of Confusion and Comparison