I find myself intrigued each time I drive by a Church and read an inspirational sign with a heartfelt message. You know the kind I mean; the ones that allow a pensive moment to invade your thoughts. A few of my favorites include the following:
“There is no such thing as coincidence; coincidence is when God remains silent!”
“A Bible falling apart belongs to someone who isn’t!
“I’d like to recommend a great book to read; it has 1,189 chapters- it’s called ‘The Bible’!”
“Choosy moms Choose Jesus!”
“Christians celebrate Easter every Sunday!”
Today I noticed another one; it said, “Relationship or Religion.”
Oftentimes these signs are referring to the upcoming message for the Sunday service. I’m sure this was the case today. So, let’s make an assumption that “relationship” refers to the congregation having a relationship with God. I’m going to go out on another limb and say, “Religion” (this church happened to be Presbyterian) means just that; the identifier of their religion. As a member of this congregation this Sunday, how will the minister approach this sermon? Will he ask it in the form of a question; “Relationship or Religion?” Or maybe he would simply say, “Do you have a relationship with God in practicing your religion?”
I am curious why they chose the word “or” in describing their sermon, “Relationship or Religion”! Shouldn’t it have said “Relationship and Religion” or “Relationship with Religion?”
A relationship with God starts with admitting we’re sinners. Remember God sent his Son Jesus to give us the opportunity to spend eternity with Him. Our relationship with God is necessary to prepare for our ultimate place with Him. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Therefore, because we are sinners, we also need to have this relationship.
Communication with God is essential for anyone practicing their religion. I think it’s important to realize your relationship should involve more than just going through the motions of “religious dogma;” it has to be a true connection to be real.
In our Catholic faith, for example, we look to our relationship with God through prayer, participating in the Mass, participating in all the sacraments, giving honor to God on Holy days, honoring Jesus’ mother Mary when saying the rosary; and living our faith. “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” These are a few ways we Catholics develop our relationship with God.
When you develop your relationship, you will automatically cultivate a relationship with the Holy Spirit. You don’t always realize it, but He is there. My sister Mary refers to this relationship as watching God orchestrate his presence.
A good example of this happened last week when I took my husband, Jack, to the hospital after having a heart attack. He has many health issues that have brought us to St. Vincent Hospital over this last 30 years. My concern on this night was that the hospital usually experiences a 4-5 hour wait, no matter what the time of day. However, this time it struck me as very strange. Immediately when we arrived, I noticed my husband was their only patient. There was no one else in the waiting room. He was taken back instantly and had care from three nurses and two doctors. He had surgery to place more stents in his blocked arteries and went home two days later feeling better. My sister’s comment after hearing this, “You can just sit back and watch God conducting his orchestra through the power of the Holy Spirit!”
If I were giving this sermon on Sunday, I think I would remind the congregation that God doesn’t just look to your actions as much as He looks to your heart in wanting a relationship with you. This is how He knows you are giving of yourself. As we approach Easter I think it’s a great time to reacquaint our hearts with God and bless us daily as we live our relationship with Him!
Copyright 2015 Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh
Photo: Church Sign by Anthony Bellasario, copyright 2012 via Flickr.