“Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship.”
That’s one of our favorite lines, and it is so true. Christianity is not just a list of “dos and don’ts” and “be good enough here and there” and you make it into heaven if you don’t mess up. That’s not our Jesus. True Christians are those who have chosen to have a personal relationship with Christ through salvation. We are not only followers, but family.
So, let’s DTR– define the relationship.
What does Jesus really ask of us in this relationship? What does a real relationship require?
Commitment. Loyalty. Love. Honesty. Trust. Sacrifice.
Those are some heavy-duty words.
In this world we live in, I feel like a lot of people are afraid of commitment. Well, sure everyone wants to be loved and a lot of people are in relationships… but real commitment? Like, Marriage??
Well, that’s another story.
So, the go-to answer is “Hey, let’s just move in together.” That way, you can get all the benefits of a real committed relationship… but without the commitment or sacrifice. You can get the pleasure without risking the pain. You can stay as along as things are good and go your way, and if not, you can just gather your things and get on with your life.
A relationship with Christ doesn’t work that way.
Jesus says, “Come.” And not only that, he also says, “Come after me.”
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23
When you enter into a relationship with Christ, he doesn’t ask you to be “part-time.” When you choose Christ, you choose to be his Bride. You are either IN or OUT. There is no middle ground. A casual no-strings-attached arrangement isn’t a possibility. If there is no middle ground, why do we act like we can enjoy all the benefits of a real, committed relationship with Christ without ANY of the real sacrifice?
Think of the “rich, young ruler” in Mark 10 who came to Jesus and asked what more than keeping ALL of the commandments he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said, “Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” Jesus invited him to be his follower, but first he tells him he has to give up all that he owns, and suddenly, he is faced with the choice of following Jesus or keeping his stuff. He couldn’t do both. No matter how hard he had tried to get around it, there was no way to follow Jesus without denying himself.
When is the last time your commitment to Christ cost you something?
He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and he is coming back to claim what is His. He is coming to conquer. He is not asking, “Do you like me? check yes or no.” He is not here to play games, and if your commitment to Christ has not cost you anything, you are not truly a follower. Those are HIS words, not mine.
You can not be in a relationship with Christ if you are still “seeing” the world.
Our generation needs so badly to count the cost of being a true disciple of Christ. We need to stop buying into “American Christianity” that says you can live for yourself all week chasing the things of the world as long as you raise your hands in “praise” on Sunday morning. The message of the American Christian “church” sounds less like “deny yourself” and more like the Burger King slogan, “Have it your way.” People, that is not the life God has called us to in His word. He has called us to be set-apart, a peculiar people. It’s not a life of comfort. Believe that there is no comfortable way to carry a cross.
We are not called to just “live with” Christ. We are asked to be His Bride.
If we have truly chosen to be the Bride, why are we still living like we are single? Let’s say a girl got married. It was a beautiful wedding and they were so in love. However, the day after the marriage, she went back home to live with her parents. She slept in her old bed, and ate her parent’s food, and drove her parent’s car. Sure, she was married. She had taken his last name, but she wasn’t committed.
That is all too often what we do with Christ. We claim to be a “Christian” in name, and yet, we listen to the same music we used to listen to, watch the same old tv shows we used to watch, do and say the same old things we used to do when we were not “Christian.” Know this: If you live your life for money and success, people or popularity, your talents, your title, or your own ambition, even if you succeed…you fail. We can not say “yes” to God, and not say “no” to ourselves.
Something has got to give. Jesus is calling us. He calling us not only to a “relationship,” but to a marriage. He calling us to “come after” him to be his disciple. He is calling us to be committed. I am asking you to take an honest look at your life, and evaluate your relationship with Christ. Commitment and sacrifice are evidence of real love. If it is not where it should be, if you are not making any changes or sacrifices or commitments, check out your salvation. Commit your whole life to Jesus, and accept His invitation. Don’t hold back when what Christ has to offers us is better than anything we could ever get for ourselves.
Today, you are faced with the choice of following Jesus or keeping your stuff. You can’t do both.
True followers are willing to deny themselves and say,
I choose Jesus.
I choose Jesus over my family.
I choose Jesus over money.
I choose Jesus over career goals.
I choose Jesus over getting drunk.
I choose Jesus over looking at porn.
I choose Jesus over a redecorated house.
I choose Jesus over my freedom.
I choose Jesus over my popularity.
I choose Jesus over what other people think of me.
I choose Jesus…. even if it costs me everything.
What choice will you make?