Have you heard the saying, “Christianity isn’t about religion; it’s about relationship”? What does that mean? Well, let me put it this way – and then I’ll share today’s quote from Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts .
The Dialogue of Religion
Let’s say there are two people. One has something the other needs and is willing to give it as a gift.
Religion says: Forget the gift, Buddy, I want to earn it from you. What can I do to get it from you? Can I mow your grass? Can I kneel on hard pavement in front of your house? Can I chant 300 times and ring bells in the street? What will convince you that I am worthy of receiving what I need?
The Dialogue of Relationship
Relationship says: Wow, thank you man. You really want to give this to me? But, like, I totally don’t deserve it.
And Relationship responds: Yes, I want you to have it. I am offering it to you because you don’t deserve it and can never earn it. If you are ever going to have it, it must be a gift. So here, it’s yours.
And Relationship receives. And Relationship gives thanks. And Relationship responds.
And Relationship grows.
Teaching the Rules
If we get hung up on religion’s rules, we can lose sight of Relationship. If we are learning religion’s rules, some can – don’t we all? – feel this way:
“’I remember talking to the priest and he gave me a list of rules I couldn’t keep,’ Ted recounted. ‘I began to doubt that religion could help me with my problems. I didn’t know any god, and if there was a god, he would not care about me.’”
But If We Introduce Relationship …
“One day following a doctor’s appointment, Ted returned to the orphanage and immediately sensed a very different environment … it was joy… the room lit up with colorful boxes on each desk …
“Ted was reluctant to get too excited about the box, figuring that it would be given then taken away. But when he was convinced that it was his he thought, ‘Wow, somebody really packed this just for me!’”
– Quote from Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts by Franklin Graham
Ted didn’t have to work for his shoebox. It was a gift.
From a person. To a person. By the heart of God.
And that’s Relationship.
A Story of Simple Gifts
Would you like to read more about the relationship between God, shoeboxes, packers and receivers?
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REALITY CHECK: I’m typing this at 2 am because my daughter is recovering from an anaphylaxic reaction. I cried out to God in prayer – out of relationship, knowing He knew my tears were overflowing emotion, not manufactured manipulation. I soaked tears into my pillow just to the brink of a headache. Knowing God is in the valley with us, I decided I’d rather spend my wee hours building a relationship with you all than hugging my tissue box and migraine meds any day. Or night. 🙂
See REALITY-CHECK REALITY CHECK of a few days ago to clear up any confusion in the timing of these reality checks. 🙂