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… ♥