Christianity Is More Than a Relationship
Recently an independent fundamental Baptist told his church, “The foundation is not built upon tenants of God’s Word, but the person of Christ.” I’m not sure if his church members even realized what was being taught through this statement he made. This is always how the tentacles of heresy worm their way into the hearts of good Christians.
It has become more and more popular for Christians to claim that Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact many will downplay doctrine while making having a relationship as premier. Make no mistake it is possible for someone to have a relationship with Christ, but Christianity is not about having a relationship with Christ. Christianity is about receiving, by faith, the gift of salvation and committing ourselves to be disciples.
He did not say walk with me. He said follow me. A good general does not look for soldiers with whom he can have a relationship. He looks for soldiers who will follow him. A good boss does not look for employees that will have a relationship with him. He looks for employees who will follow him. A good leader is not looking for relationships. A good leader is looking for people who will follow him. Jesus was looking for disciples. He was looking for men and women who would be disciplined and come after him in the way he described.
The fact is, we cannot even be the friend of Christ unless we are willing first to be obedient to his commandments. John 15:14 says, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” That doesn’t sound like a relationship comes first. That sounds like a person must obey and follow first before there can ever possibly be a relationship.
One of the things that I have heard that is quite disturbing is that salvation is about having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Let me make it clear, that is totally false. Conviction precedes salvation which means that conviction is more important than a relationship. Conviction for what? We must be convicted of our sins. Show me one example in the Bible of someone coming to Christ to have a relationship with him. Nothing even akin to that is mentioned.
People who “enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ” may do so without ever truly receiving him as their Savior. In other words it is possible for someone to think they are having a relationship when in reality they are still on their way to hell. How can that be you ask. Let me explain.
Throughout the years I have had individuals who have sought to have a close relationship with me. There are some who have even claimed to be my good friends, but I didn’t even know them. Quite frankly none of those people have ever had a close relationship with me. The people with whom I have a close relationship have always been the people who have been going in the same direction I am going and doing the work that I am doing. A man doesn’t come to work for me to have a good relationship with me. He comes to work with me to do what I tell him to do. We will build a relationship but it will be based upon his obedience to what I tell them to do.
The Bible does not say that if a man is not in a relationship with Jesus Christ he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. It says that a man must be born again. How is one born again. We are born of the spirit. We by faith in what Christ did for us receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our hope for heaven and as a substitute for our sins. Getting saved makes possible a relationship with Jesus Christ. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is not getting saved.
Now it all sounds good in this touchy-feely society in which we live but it’s false. It is not about having a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is about putting one’s faith in Christ and then being an obedient disciple of Christ by doing exactly what Christ said we must do. Once we have become obedient we become his friends. Jesus offers us an opportunity to develop a relationship with him but that is not the main purpose. That is a byproduct. We have made the byproduct into the end goal. We want to have a relationship as our main purpose when in reality having a relationship is a byproduct of our main purpose.
It is interesting to note that nowhere in our Lord’s life on this earth did we see him talking about having a relationship with people. It didn’t happen. He did not come to build relationships. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. His goal was that those who are saved would become disciples of his and live for him. Those who chose to do so are called friends as a byproduct of their obedience.
When I got married I entered into a responsibility to be a husband to my wife. I chose her to have a position in my life as my wife and I chose to be in the position of her husband. We did not enter into a relationship. We entered into a commitment. After 53 years of following that commitment we have built a strong relationship. Many a marriage is ruined by trying to have a relationship without fulfilling one’s responsibility. You will not have a good relationship in any endeavor of life without being what you are supposed to be within the parameters of that particular situation.
The Bible never speaks of Apostles having a relationship with Jesus Christ. So who does? Well let me tell you. It is those who are championing this new age, emerging church, anything goes false gospel. What they’ are really trying to say is that being obedient is not all that important as having a relationship is. It is their way of negating those parts of the Christian life they would prefer not to live or obey. If it’s about relationship than obeying God’s word is no longer as important. That’s their way out. It’s their excuse. They are wrong and don’t fall for it. Christianity is not about a relationship. It never has been.
If someone were to ask me what kind of relationship do you have with Jesus Christ, my answer would be that I am a servant of Jesus Christ. I hope that I have served him well. I hope as a byproduct that he recognizes me as His friend. I hope that he sees my obedience and my commitment to do what he has called me to do and considers me as His friend. I did not seek to be his friend. I sought to be his servant and I hope as a result I have come to be his friend. I am not seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ. I am seeking to give my life to him because I owe it to him to do so. I hope that he will one day say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” For if I am faithful as His servant, then and only then can I be called His friend