EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been thinking about “religious” folks in church lately. I was considering writing a post about them; then the other day I read Patrick Hawthorne’s spot on post about the difference between religious folks and folks with a personal relationship to Jesus. Here is Patrick’s post.
By Patrick Hawthorne
We meet them in every church building. Some we love with a heavenly loathe, while others we simply tolerate. To these individuals I salute you with a Southern inspired, “Bless your heart.” Translated, this means that I love you but if you don’t leave me alone, I will take your Bible and literally thump you over the head with it just as you have figuratively done it to me. Yes…I’m writing of the law abiding, Pharisee adoring, religious fanatic within each church building.
Before you cast stones, let me explain. There are some in the Church (The Body of Christ) who I have no doubt love the Lord, but have not passed from religious to relationship. In other words, they serve the Christ of the Bible but have no relationship with the Master of the Word. To them God is God and no more. Sadly, God the Father is not known to them, nor is Jesus the Son. As for the Holy Spirit…the Holy Who?
“Ahhh,” they think. “He is just a part of the Trinity who really doesn’t do much anymore.”
Why do I write on this issue? That’s easy. “Hi, my name is Patrick and I am a recovering Religious-ist.” Once all I knew how to do was bash people over the head with the Bible. I thought I knew God in a personal way but had only deceived myself. I could spout off the very religious do’s and don’ts but could not tell anyone, in a sincere and personal way, why Jesus would love them so much that He would die for them. Oh sure, I could quote John 3:16 with no problem but it had not become personal to me.
And then, one day it happened… I met the Father. His Holy Spirit fell on me so dramatically that I was toast. I was so drunk by His presence that the thought of wanting to go back to my old religious ways was out of the question. I won’t say the religious to relationship transition was instantaneous. For that matter, the religious to relationship transition is still a work in progress. However, without a doubt, the transition has been one of amazement. And you want to know the funny part? My actions and the way I live are more in line with His Word now than when I was trying to do it through my old religious acting ways…which interestingly enough was in my own strength and power.
So…Whose with me? Today I invite you to cast off the bitter herb of religion in lieu of a tastier bowl of relationship. Be blessed.
Patrick Hawthorne, of Shreveport, Louisiana, graduated from the Word of Life School of Ministry in 2002. He is now an instructor at the school. He has authored two books Great is Thy Faithfulness, and Simply Grace. Patrick blogs at Servant Grace Ministries.