When Jesus was my religion…

Jesus, best friendBefore Jesus was my best friend, before He was my savior, before He was my King of Kings… He was just my religion.

He was someone I honored from afar. Someone I feared. Someone I tried to behave “good” for.

I grew up hearing about Jesus. Reading about Jesus. Praying to Jesus. But it wasn’t until I was in my early pre-teen years that Jesus became much more than a religion.

Much more than someone I needed to please in fear of judgment and punishment one day.

Much more than someone I needed to spend time with out of duty.

Much more than someone I only knew about from others, but never personally knew myself.

When I was younger I used to think my commitment, my love, my devotion to God was something that could be measured.

Measured by how many church services I attended per week.

How many hours I would spend on my knees before Him.

How many chapters from the Bible I would read.

And if I didn’t measure up… well, I’d be in trouble.

I’d create a calendar for the month and mark how many times I had to attend church every week. It was usually at least 3 or 4 times.

I would create a tally sheet of how many chapters from the Bible I had to read to mark off when I was finished. And I would read ten chapters a day. Some of it I skimmed through. Some of it I half-slept through it. Some of it I didn’t even try to understand. But I got to mark it off on my sheet of paper. I was sure I pleased God.

I would get on my knees to pray with a clock right in front of me and I couldn’t get off for at least thirty minutes. Sometimes I ran out of things to say. I just kept on repeating the same things over and over again, waiting for time to pass by. I figured God was happy to see I was trying.

Trying to follow the rules.

Trying to do my best not to mess up.

Trying to be a good, Christian girl.

And it took some time for me to realize that Jesus didn’t want any of it if it meant nothing to me.

He didn’t choose to be my savior so I could learn to follow rules.

He didn’t come down from heaven to earth for me to only know Him from a distance.

He didn’t die on a cross for me to make Him my religion.

No… all He wanted from me is the same thing He wanted from the people He created in the very beginning: a personal relationship.

One where I talk to Him like He’s my best friend.

One where I seek Him out of love, not out of duty.

One where I honor Him out of respect, not fear.

And we all have the choice to choose Christ.

He never forces anyone to have a relationship with Him.

He wants us to choose Him on our own.

I remember when that transition took place in my life.

When Jesus stopped being my religion, and started being my best friend.

I didn’t have to time myself when I knelt down to pray. No, you couldn’t get me off my knees because I had no other desire than to spend my nights sharing my heart and laying my burdens at the feet of my best friend.

I didn’t have to count how many chapters I read from the Bible every day. I pored over those scriptures, prayed them, journaled about them and grew from them every single day.

I didn’t have to force myself to attend one more church service so I could check off a box on my sheet of paper. I couldn’t wait to go to church to learn more about Christ and to spend time with other believers.

My walk with Jesus changed completely when I fell in love with Him and with His Word.

No longer was church boring.

No longer was prayer something I forced myself to do.

No longer was the Bible just another book on my bookshelf.

Yes… I still kept doing all of the same things, but how and why I did them made all the difference in the world.

Many years have passed since that transition took place and I have to admit, sometimes it’s tempting to go back.

To make Jesus just a religion once more.

Become like one of those old couples that just “fall out of love” years down the road… and they don’t want to keep on going together anymore.

Maintaining a good relationship doesn’t just “happen”. It requires daily effort. Just like any marriage would.

There’s a saying about love… and how it means falling in love with the same person over and over again. I think that’s exactly how it is with Jesus.

You need to keep falling in love with Him more every day.

And you do that by spending time in His presence and in His Word.

By remembering how wonderful and faithful He is.

How He has seen you through thick and thin.

How great His love for you is.

And when you spend time with Him every day… He will stop being your religion and He will become your best friend.

Today…I want you to think about your relationship with Jesus.

Is He truly your best friend?

The One you can’t wait to begin and end your day with?

The One you center your life around?

Or is He just a religion?

A person you must please out of duty so you can make it to heaven?

A God who is far out of sight?

A person you don’t care too much about?

If Jesus is not everything to you, you are missing out.

Please don’t let Him become just a religion in your life.

He died for You to be so much more than that.

Learn to fall in love with Him today.

Meditate on His goodness toward you.

Spend time alone with Him.

Never let Him become anything less than what He came on earth for: to be your savior and your closest friend.

Be blessed! Anna… ♥

Jesus is not a religion [Image creator unknown. Please respond if you know the author so credit can be given.]

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29 thoughts on “When Jesus was my religion…

  1. Pingback: When you need to stop serving | daughter by design

  2. This is so good! Thank you for the eloquent and “real life” reminder. I’m so thankful that in it all – when we set our heart on seeking intimacy with Him, He promises that He will come near to us in return (James 4:8).

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  3. I remember thinking as a child that Jesus was mine forever. This filled my heart with such overwhelming joy and delight that I would cry and often I still do. Jesus said that we are to become like little children. It filled me with such awe that I was going to have Him always and that He would never leave me. He is more beautiful to me now than ever. There is only Jesus. There is just Him. Nothing and no one comes close. He captivates us. He calls us to Himself. He is faithful, He is true, He lifts our heads, He wipes away our tears, He is our song, He is our shield, He is our refuge and our strength, He is the lover of our souls, our restorer, our all in all. He is the Good Shepherd, He is tender hearted and abounding in love. He rejoices over us with singing. He delights in us. I want to hold Him and never let go. Hold Him more tightly than ever and give Him all my heart. Allow Him into every part. May His heart be poured into ours.

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    • I had the same experience with Jesus growing up. I’m so glad I fell in love with Him at such a young age. Whenever that passion dies down within me for Christ I always remind myself of that first love I had for Him. I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for Him being by my side all these years. We are blessed to know the One who walks every single step with us, hears our every prayer, and counts our every tear.

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  4. HE is our bestest Friend 😉 Anna, thank you for visiting my blog and liking one of my post. Your comment to me blessed me so much and means a great deal! Thank you for following and I will be following yours as well. Iron sharpens iron. You are such an inspiration and have a great blog here! Blessings!

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    • Yes He is! And iron most definitely sharpens iron. I’m glad there are so many wonderful writers who share their faith and lives through their words on here! I look forward to reading your future posts Mary. Be blessed! 🙂

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  5. Wonderful Anna. I remember the day Jesus moved into my heart and took up residence. Saturday night I couldn’t serve Him no matter how hard I tried and Sunday night after I gave Him my life serving Him became as natural as breathing.

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  6. Beautiful! We waste so much time with the tradition of religion and not the relationship of God. I was taught growing up to honor and obey God the Father, but I was not taught about God the Lover. When we truly fall in love with God, then church services, prayer, and reading the word ceases to be a duty or a chore but becomes a privilege.

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    • I love that! It is most definitely a privilege to walk alongside and serve an Almighty God that cares about us so much! The more we fall in love with Him the less the things of this world matter to us and the more we live in a way that makes a difference for eternity! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂 Be blessed!

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  7. So awesome! Funny how we both had this on our minds and hearts yesterday! Hopefully its a movement among many of God’s people to think in terms of relationship rather than religion so we can freely love and worship! 🙂 Great post!!!

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    • I know, right?? 🙂 I definitely hope that it’s something Christians think about on a regular basis. It’s so easy to forget what being a believer is all about. Thanks for stopping by! Be blessed!

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  8. I can feel the freedom in your words. I understand and relate to your journey. When His love breaks through the rules, we are never, ever the same. When it happened to me, scripture came alive and I saw the WHY behind everything that was written. The rules and laws and things to do/not to do are all for our GOOD. It’s like the Bible did a 180 degree turn in my heart. HIs love changes everything….Thanks for writing this beautiful piece. I think you nailed the core of what we miss about Jesus – the connection to Him in our heart.

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    • “It’s like the Bible did a 180 degree turn in my heart.” Love that! And have definitely experienced the exact same thing in my walk with Christ!

      Once you fall in love with Jesus you see life with a new perspective and it’s so wonderful to live it fully and purposefully with God by our side guiding us every step of the way! 🙂 Hope you have a great weekend Lori!

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  9. Beautiful writing – and with a message that is so needed today.

    I remember as a teen thinking to myself, “I don’t have money to tithe. I’ll tithe my time instead.” (I seem to remember a sermon taught on the subject. I’d hate to think that I came up with this all on my own!)

    That was probably the nuttiest I got about being religious. Who wants a friend who punches a time clock to be sure they’ve spent 1/7th of their week with you? Sick, just sick! I’m so glad Jesus delivered me from that bondage!

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    • Thank you Tami! Christianity without a true relationship with Jesus is nothing more than a religion and I definitely agree with you, it can totally be a bondage and I’m so grateful I’m free from it!

      And I would never want a friend who forced themselves to be my friend because they had no choice to. It’s such a beautiful thing to choose Jesus every day out of our own desire rather than out of religious duty!

      Thank you for stopping by. 🙂 Be blessed!

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    • Thanks Lily! And yes… there is always more!

      When I was a child I used to think I’d “get there” when I was older. At that point where you are as close to God as you can be and there’s nothing more to learn from and about Him.

      What I’ve learned is that the closer you are to God and the more you seek Him you discover that you will never reach that place where you will fully know Him.. and that’s a pretty wonderful thing because it makes me want to seek Him and know Him even more! 🙂

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